Comparison of resection and radiofrequency ablation for treatment of solitary colorectal liver metastases

Br J Surg. 2003 Oct;90(10):1240-3. doi: 10.1002/bjs.4264.


Background: Liver resection is the treatment of choice for patients with solitary colorectal liver metastases. In recent years, however, radiofrequency ablation has been used increasingly in the treatment of colorectal liver metastases. In the absence of randomized clinical trials, this study aimed to compare outcome in patients with solitary colorectal liver metastases treated by surgery or by radiofrequency ablation.

Methods: Solitary colorectal liver metastases were treated by radiofrequency destruction in 25 patients. The indications were extrahepatic disease in seven, vessel contiguity in nine and co-morbidity in nine patients. Outcome was compared with that of 20 patients who were treated by liver resection for solitary metastases and had no evidence of extrahepatic disease. Most patients in both groups also received systemic chemotherapy.

Results: Median survival after liver resection was 41 (range 0-97) months with a 3-year survival rate of 55.4 per cent. There was one postoperative death and morbidity was minimal. Median survival after radiofrequency ablation was 37 (range 9-67) months with a 3-year survival rate of 52.6 per cent.

Conclusion: Survival after resection and radiofrequency ablation of solitary colorectal liver metastases was comparable. The latter is less invasive and requires either an overnight stay or day-case facilities only.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome