Percutaneous ablation of liver tumours

Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 Feb;18(1):125-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2003.08.001.


The goal of local ablation treatment of hepatic disease is to prolong survival for patients with unresectable tumours. Presently, influence on survival is difficult to estimate because of the heterogeneity of indications and treatments and short follow-up. This chapter therefore focuses on potential benefits and limitations, complications and solutions for improvement. The main problems with in situ ablation are the lack of good imaging techniques to determine the extent of disease and the lack of a method for real-time monitoring of irreversible tissue effect. With one exception, there are no prospective, randomized studies comparing local destruction methods. It appears that percutaneous ethanol injection and cryotherapy should be replaced by radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or interstitial laser thermotherapy (ILT) and that there is little difference in outcome between RFA and ILT. Intraoperative RFA or ILT is valuable as an adjunct to hepatic resection in order to increase the rate of resectability. The percutaneous approach needs further development. It might be valuable in a few truly unresectable or inoperable patients or in selected patients with neuroendocrine liver metastases. In the large majority of unresectable patients it should, however, presently be used and evaluated only in prospective, randomized studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation / adverse effects
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laser Coagulation / adverse effects
  • Laser Coagulation / methods*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome