[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
February 1, 2006

Radiofrequency Ablation of Liver Tumors: A Systematic Review

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Australian Safety and Efficacy Register of New Interventional Procedures[[ndash]]Surgical, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Stepney (Drs Sutherland and Maddern); Gastrointestinal Services, University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide (Dr Williams); Department of Surgery, Flinders University of South Australia, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park (Dr Padbury); University Department of Surgery, University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba (Dr Gotley); University of Western Australia, St John of God Hospital, Perth (Dr Stokes); and Department of Surgery, University of Adelaide, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide (Dr Maddern), Australia.

Arch Surg. 2006;141(2):181-190. doi:10.1001/archsurg.141.2.181

Objectives  To systematically review radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for treating liver tumors.

Data Sources  Databases were searched in July 2003.

Study Selection  Studies comparing RFA with other therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and colorectal liver metastases (CLM) plus selected case series for CLM.

Data Extraction  One researcher used standardized data extraction tables developed before the study, and these were checked by a second researcher.

Data Synthesis  For HCC, 13 comparative studies were included, 4 of which were randomized, controlled trials. For CLM, 13 studies were included, 2 of which were nonrandomized comparative studies and 11 that were case series. There did not seem to be any distinct differences in the complication rates between RFA and any of the other procedures for treatment of HCC. The local recurrence rate at 2 years showed a statistically significant benefit for RFA over percutaneous ethanol injection for treatment of HCC (6% vs 26%, 1 randomized, controlled trial). Local recurrence was reported to be more common after RFA than after laser-induced thermotherapy, and a higher recurrence rate and a shorter time to recurrence were dassociated with RFA compared with surgical resection (1 nonrandomized study each). For CLM, the postoperative complication rate ranged from 0% to 33% (3 case series). Survival after diagnosis was shorter in the CLM group treated with RFA than in the surgical resection group (1 nonrandomized study). The CLM local recurrence rate after RFA ranged from 4% to 55% (6 case series).

Conclusions  Radiofrequency ablation may be more effective than other treatments in terms of less recurrence of HCC and may be as safe, although the evidence is scant. There was not enough evidence to determine the safety or efficacy of RFA for treatment of CLM.