Radiofrequency ablation treatment of refractory carcinoid hepatic metastases

J Surg Res. 2001 Jan;95(1):8-12. doi: 10.1006/jsre.2000.5988.


Background: Our institution has experienced excellent success using hepatic artery embolization for treating symptoms and slowing tumor progression for patients with unresectable hepatic metastases for carcinoid tumors. Our previous treatment strategies used hepatic artery embolization alone, examining control of symptoms and dependence on octreotide therapy. However, some patients exhibit hepatic metastases that are unresponsive to embolization. This report describes the use of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) as salvage treatment for these refractory metastases.

Methods: Thirteen patients with unresectable bilobar hepatic metastases from biochemically confirmed carcinoid tumors were treated with selective hepatic artery embolization using Lipiodol/Gelfoam between 1994 and 2000. Three patients developed symptoms resistant to embolization treatment resulting from progression of existing metastases or development of new metastases. These patients underwent surgical exploration and intraoperative ultrasound of their refractory lesions, followed by treatment with RFA. Tumor size, symptoms of carcinoid syndrome, and octreotide requirements were monitored postoperatively.

Results: Median follow-up for the three patients treated with RFA was 6 months. During the first 3-month interval following RFA, all three patients demonstrated decrease in the size of treated lesions. Using our previously developed symptom scoring system, all three patients demonstrated decreased symptoms following treatment. One patient was able to discontinue octreotide treatment, and the other two patients required decrease octreotide dosages.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that utilization of RFA treatment for carcinoid metastases refractory to hepatic artery embolization may represent a useful adjunct for symptomatic control, decreased octreotide dependence, and slowing of disease progression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoid Tumor / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoid Tumor / surgery*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Octreotide / therapeutic use
  • Radiofrequency Therapy*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Octreotide