, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 2062-2070
Date: 15 Feb 2007

Actual role of radiofrequency ablation of liver metastases

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Abstract

The liver is, second only to lymph nodes, the most common site for metastatic disease irrespective of the primary tumour. More than 50% of all patients with malignant diseases will develop liver metastases with a significant morbidity and mortality. Although the surgical resection leads to an improved survival in patients with colorectal metastases, only approximately 20% of patients are eligible for surgery. Thermal ablation and especially radiofrequency ablation emerge as an important additional therapy modality for the treatment of liver metastases. RF ablation shows a benefit in life expectancy and may lead in a selected patient group to cure. Percutaneous RF ablation appears safer (versus cryotherapy), easier (versus laser), and more effective (versus ethanol instillation and transarterial chemoembolisation) compared with other minimally invasive procedures. RF ablation can be performed by a percutaneous, laparoscopical or laparotomic approach, and may be potentially combined with chemotherapy and surgery. At present ideal candidates have tumours with a maximum diameter less than 3.5 cm. An untreatable primary tumour or a systemic disease represents contraindications for performing local therapies. Permanent technical improvements of thermal ablation devices and a better integration of thermal ablation in the overall patient care may lead to prognosis improvement in patients with liver metastases.