Cryosurgery and radiofrequency ablation for unresectable colorectal liver metastases

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2005 Dec;31(10):1152-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2005.07.010. Epub 2005 Aug 29.


Aims: To report immediate local treatment efficacy and long-term results of cryosurgical ablation (CSA) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in patients with colorectal liver metastases not eligible for resection.

Methods: Fifty-eight patients with unresectable colorectal liver metastases were included. Under ultrasound guidance, CSA or RFA were performed with or without concomitant resection. CT scanning and FDG-PET were used to determine local efficacy of the ablative procedure.

Results: Median follow-up was 26 and 25 months for CSA and RFA, respectively. One and 2-year survival rates were 76 and 61% for CSA and 93 and 75% for RFA, respectively. In a lesion based analysis, the local recurrence rate was 9% after CSA and 6% after RFA. Complication rates were 30 and 11% after CSA and RFA, respectively, (p=0.052). In a subgroup analysis on 43 patients with 104 ablated lesions, CT scan immediate after treatment was not able to predict local treatment failure, whereas FDG-PET scan within 3 weeks after local ablative treatment predicted six of the seven local recurrences.

Conclusions: In patients with unresectable colorectal liver metastases, CSA and RFA can be used either alone or as an effective adjunct to resection in achieving complete tumour clearance of the liver. More widespread use of these techniques seems promising but requires further investigation in randomized trials comparing local ablative treatment with chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheter Ablation*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cryosurgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome