Abdominal Radiology

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 767–780 | Cite as

Percutaneous cryoablation of hepatic tumors: long-term experience of a large U.S. series

  • Peter J. LittrupEmail author
  • Hussein D. Aoun
  • Barbara Adam
  • Mark Krycia
  • Matt Prus
  • Anthony Shields



To report our long-term experience with percutaneous cryotherapy for primary and metastatic liver tumors, including historical perspectives on complications over time and local recurrence rates.

Materials and methods

Following IRB approval under HIPAA compliance, 342 CT fluoroscopic-guided, percutaneous cryotherapy procedures were performed for 443 masses in 212 outpatients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; N = 36), or metastatic disease (N = 176), grouped as colorectal carcinoma (CRC) and non-CRC metastases. Tumor and ablation sizes were noted in relation to adjacent vasculature. All complications were graded according to standardized criteria. Patients were followed by CT and/or MRI at 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, 24 months and yearly thereafter. Local recurrences were defined as either “procedural” within the ice ablation zone, or “satellite” within 1 cm of the ablation rim to evaluate recurrence patterns.


Average tumor diameter of 2.8 cm was treated by average cryoprobe number of 4.5, which produced CT-visible ice ablation zone diameters averaging 5.2 cm. Grade >3 complications were primarily hematologic [N = 20/342; (5.8%)], and appeared related to pre-procedural anemia/thrombocytopenia, carcinoid tumor type, and large ablation volumes. No significant central biliary leak, strictures, or bilomas were noted. At a mean follow-up of 1.8 years, local tumor recurrences were 5.5%, 11.1%, and 9.4% for HCC, CRC, and non-CRC metastases, respectively, consisting mainly of satellite foci. No significant difference was noted for local recurrences near major blood vessels or tumors >3 cm diameter.


Percutaneous hepatic cryotherapy is a well-visualized, safe procedure that produces very low local recurrence rates, even for tumors near vasculature and diameters over 3 cm. Cryoablation deserves to be in the armamentarium of percutaneous hepatic ablation, especially with careful patient selection for tumors <4 cm and patients with platelet counts >100,000. Percutaneous hepatic cryoablation represents a highly flexible technique with particular benefits near central biliary structures and/or adjacent crucial structures.


Cryoablation Liver tumors Hepatocellular carcinoma Metastases Recurrence Complication 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflicts to report.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Littrup
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hussein D. Aoun
    • 2
  • Barbara Adam
    • 2
  • Mark Krycia
    • 3
  • Matt Prus
    • 2
  • Anthony Shields
    • 2
  1. 1.Rhode Island Medical Imaging, Rhode Island HospitalBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Karmanos Cancer InstituteDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Wayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA

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