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Radiofrequency ablation of neuroendocrine liver metastases—the Middlesex experience

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Current treatment options for neuroendocrine liver metastases are not widely applicable or not that effective. Image-guided thermal ablation offers the possibility of a minimally invasive, albeit palliative, treatment that decreases tumor volume, preserves most of the normal liver, and can be repeated several times. We report our experience with image-guided thermal ablation in 25 patients with unresectable liver metastases.


Since 1990 we have treated 189 tumors at 66 treatment sessions in 25 patients (12 female, 13 male; median age, 56 years; age range, 26–78 years). Thirty treatments were performed with a solid-state laser, and 36 treatments were performed with radiofrequency ablation. All but one treatment was performed percutaneously under image guidance. Sixteen patients had metastases from carcinoid primaries, three from gastrinoma, two from insulinoma, and four from miscellaneous causes. Fourteen of 25 had symptoms from hormone secretion.


Imaging follow-up was available in 19 patients at a median of 21 months (range, 4–75 months). There was a complete response in six patients, a partial response in seven, and stable disease in one; hence, tumor load was controlled in 14 of 19 patients (74%). Relief of hormone-related symptoms was achieved in nine of 14 patients (69%). The median survival period from the diagnosis of liver metastases was 53 months. One patient with end-stage cardiac disease died after a carcinoid crisis. There were eight (12%) complications: five local and three distant, four major and four minor.


As a minimally invasive, readily repeatable procedure that can be used to ablate small tumors, preferably before patients become severely symptomatic, radiofrequency ablation can provide effective control of liver tumor volume in most patients over many years.

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Correspondence to A. Gillams.

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Gillams, A., Cassoni, A., Conway, G. et al. Radiofrequency ablation of neuroendocrine liver metastases—the Middlesex experience. Abdom Imaging 30, 435–441 (2005).

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