Complications of microwave ablation for liver tumors: results of a multicenter study

Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2012 Aug;35(4):868-74. doi: 10.1007/s00270-011-0241-8. Epub 2011 Aug 11.


Purpose: New technologies for microwave ablation (MWA) have been conceived, designed to achieve larger areas of necrosis compared with radiofrequency ablation (RFA). The purpose of this study was to report complications by using this technique in patients with focal liver cancer.

Methods: Members of 14 Italian centers used a 2.45-GMHz generator delivering energy through a cooled miniature-choke MW antenna and a standardized protocol for follow-up. They completed a questionnaire regarding number and type of deaths, major and minor complications and side effects, and likelihood of their relationship to the procedure. Enrollment included 736 patients with 1.037 lesions: 522 had hepatocellular carcinoma with cirrhosis, 187 had metastases predominantly from colorectal cancer, and 27 had cholangiocellular carcinoma. Tumor size ranged from 0.5 to 10 cm. In 13 centers, the approach used was percutaneous, in 4 videolaparoscopic, and in 3 laparotomic.

Results: No deaths were reported. Major complications occurred in 22 cases (2.9%), and minor complications in 54 patients (7.3%). Complications of MWA do not differ from those RFA, both being based on the heat damage.

Conclusion: Results of this multicenter study confirmed those of single-center experiences, indicating that MWA is a safe procedure, with no mortality and a low rate of major complications. The low rate of complications was probably due to precautions adopted, knowing in advance possible risk conditions, on the basis of prior RFA experience.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / pathology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Laparoscopy
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Microwaves / therapeutic use*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires