Purpose: Although radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a promising method for local treatment of liver malignancies, with conventional monopolar systems recurrence rates for large size tumours (≥3.5 cm) remain high. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety, feasibility and local effectiveness of a novel bipolar plan-parallel expandable system for these larger tumours.
Methods and materials: Eight consecutive patients with either unresectable colorectal liver metastases (CRLM in 6 patients), carcinoid liver metastases (1 patient) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC in 1 patient) of ≥3.5 cm were treated with bipolar RFA during laparotomy with ultrasound guidance. Early and late, major and minor complications were recorded. Local success was determined on 3-8 month follow-up CT scans of the upper abdomen.
Results: Nine CRLM, one carcinoid liver metastases and one HCC (3.5-6.6 cm) were ablated with bipolar RFA. Average ablation time was 16 min (range 6-29 min.). Two patients developed a liver abscess which required re-laparotomy. In both cases bowel surgery during the same session probably caused bacterial spill. There were no mortalities. The patients were released from hospital between 5 and 29 days after the procedure (median 12 days). The 6-12 month follow-up PET-CT scans showed signs for marginal RFA-site tumour recurrence in three patients with CRLM (3/11 lesions).
Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest bipolar RFA to be a reasonably safe, fast and feasible technique which seems to improve local control for large size hepatic tumour ablations.
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