, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 486-491
Date: 30 Oct 2008

Radiofrequency Ablation vs. Resection for Hepatic Colorectal Metastasis: Therapeutically Equivalent?

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The role of ablation for hepatic colorectal metastases (HCM) continues to evolve as ablation technology changes and systemic chemotherapy improves. Our aim was to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of HCM compared to surgical resection.


A retrospective review of our 1,105 patient prospective hepatic database from August 1995 to July 2007 identified 192 patients with only hepatic resection or only ablation for HCM.


Patients who underwent RFA were similar to resection patients based on a similar Fong score (1.8 vs. 2.1 p = 0.28), presence of extrahepatic disease (15% vs. 9% p = 0.19), mean number of hepatic lesions (2.8 vs. 2.1 p = 0.14), and prior chemotherapy (67% vs. 60% p = 0.33). Median time to recurrence was shorter with ablation than resection (12.2 vs. 31.1 months; p < 0.001). Recurrence at the ablation–resection site was more common with ablation than resection occurring 17% vs. 2% (p ≤ 0.001) of the time, respectively. Distant recurrence in the liver was also more common with ablation occurring in 33% of patients vs. 14% for resection (p = 0.002).


Surgical resection is associated with a lower chance of recurrence and a longer disease-free interval than RFA and should remain the treatment of choice in resectable HCM.