Introduction: A probe emitting radiofrequency (RF) waves is able to destroy tumour tissue by thermal ablation. The purpose of this study was to undertake a prospective estimation of the benefit of RF thermoablation of liver tumours during hepatic and extrahepatic resections aimed at obtaining an R0 status in patients in whom disease is notoriously considered unresectable.
Method: Twenty-one patients underwent surgery between January 1997 and September 1999. In 17 cases, RF was associated with a hepatectomy and in nine of these cases with resection of extrahepatic lesions. In two cases, extensive resection of extrahepatic lesions was associated with RF to treat liver metastases, and in two cases RF was ultimately performed alone. The mean number of liver metastases was 6.2+/-4.3 (range 1-15) per patient. A total of 32 lesions were treated with RF. The mean size of the 33 RF-thermoablated tumours was 13.6+/-9.7 mm (range 5-52 mm), and in all but one case, a Pringle manoeuvre was performed during the RF procedure.
Results: A probable R0-resection was obtained in 18 cases. No operative deaths or any RF-related complications occurred. If we exclude the case in which it was clearly impossible to destroy liver metastases intraoperatively, only one local recurrence occurred (3%) among the 32 thermoablated lesions after a mean follow-up of 17.3 months. The 2-year overall and disease-free survival rates for this initially unresectable population were 94.7% and 22%, respectively.
Conclusion: Intraoperative use of RF to destroy unresectable liver tumours increases the rate of curative resections. Future progress in RF technology and adequate vascular clamping during RF should increase this rate.
Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.