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Radiofrequency ablation vs microwave ablation for osteoid osteomas: long-term results

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Osteoid osteomas are benign bone tumors commonly treated using thermal ablation. We compare the technical success, complication rates, and long-term efficacy of the two most common ablation types: radiofrequency and microwave.

Materials and methods

A retrospective study was performed of all osteoid osteoma ablation procedures between 2007 and 2017. A ten-point numerical pain scale was used to quantify symptoms before and after the procedures with > 12-month follow-up. Complications were reported using the Society of Interventional Radiology Adverse Events reporting criteria.


Twenty-nine patients successfully underwent 15 radiofrequency ablations and 15 microwave ablations with a technical success rate of 83% for radiofrequency and 100% for microwave (p = 0.23). Long-term recurrence rates (p = 1.0) and complication rates (p = 0.60) were not significantly different for the groups. One patient developed a skin burn following microwave ablation and another developed 12 months of sciatic neuropathy following radiofrequency ablation.


Microwave and radiofrequency ablation are safe and effective methods for treating osteoid osteomas with similar long-term efficacies. Although radiofrequency ablation is more commonly reported to result in skin burns, this complication can arise during microwave ablation.

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Correspondence to Joseph Reis.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (University of Rochester Research Subjects Review Board) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Reis, J., Chang, Y. & Sharma, A.K. Radiofrequency ablation vs microwave ablation for osteoid osteomas: long-term results. Skeletal Radiol 49, 1995–2000 (2020).

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