, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 183-191
Date: 15 Sep 2007

Analysis of Recurrence Pattern and Its Influence on Survival Outcome After Radiofrequency Ablation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

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Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is an effective local ablation therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with favorable long-term outcome. There is no data on the analysis of recurrence pattern and its influence on long-term survival outcome after RFA in HCC patients.

Aim of Study

To evaluate the tumor recurrence pattern and its influence on long-term survival in patients with HCC treated with RFA.

Patients and Methods

From April 2001 to January 2005, 209 patients received RFA using internally cooled electrode as the sole treatment modality for HCC. Among them, 117 patients (56%) had unresectable HCC because of bilobar disease, poor liver function, and/or high medical risk for resection; whereas 92 patients (44%) underwent RFA as the primary treatment for small resectable HCC. The ablation procedure was performed through percutaneous (n = 101), laparoscopic (n = 17), or open approaches (n = 91). The tumor recurrence pattern and long-term survival were analyzed. Multivariate analysis was carried out to identify independent prognostic factors affecting the overall survival of patients.


The mortality and morbidity rates were 0.9 and 15.7%, respectively. Complete tumor ablation was achieved in 192 patients (92.7%). With a median follow-up period of 26 months, local recurrence occurred in 28 patients (14.5%). Same segment and different segment intrahepatic recurrence occurred in 30 patients (15.6%) and 78 patients (40.6%), respectively. Twenty patients (10.4%) developed distant extrahepatic metastases. The overall 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates were 87.2, 66.6, and 42%, respectively. Different segment intrahepatic recurrence and distant recurrence after RFA carried significant poor prognostic influence on overall survival outcome. Using multivariate analysis, Child–Pugh grade (risk ratio [RR] = 2.918, 95% confident interval [CI] 1.704–4.998, p = 0.000), tumor size (RR = 1.231, 95% CI 1.031–1.469, p = 0.021), and pattern of recurrence (risk ratio [RR] = 1.464, 95% CI 1.156–1.987, P = 0.020) were identified as independent prognostic factors for overall survival.


The tumor recurrence pattern after RFA carries significant prognostic value in relation to overall survival. Long-term regular surveillance and aggressive treatment strategy are required for patients with different segment intrahepatic recurrence to optimize the benefits of RFA.