Efficacy of microwave versus radiofrequency ablation for treatment of small hepatocellular carcinoma: experimental and clinical studies

Eur Radiol. 2012 Sep;22(9):1983-90. doi: 10.1007/s00330-012-2442-1. Epub 2012 Apr 28.


Objective: To prospectively compare microwave (MW) ablation using a modified internal cooled-shaft antenna with radiofrequency (RF) ablation in in vivo porcine liver and in patients with small hepatocellular carcinoma (sHCC).

Methods: In an animal study, MW and RF ablations using a cooled-shaft antenna or internally cooled electrode were performed in in vivo porcine liver. Coagulation diameters of both ablations were compared. For clinical study, 42 patients with sHCC were treated with MW or RF ablation. Complete ablation (CA) and local tumour progression (LTP) were compared.

Results: MW ablation produced significantly larger ablation zones than RF ablation in both porcine liver and sHCC with an ablated volume of 33.3 ± 15.6 cm(3) vs. 18.9 ± 9.1 cm(3) and 109.3 ± 58.3 cm(3) vs. 48.7 ± 30.5 cm(3), respectively. The CA rate was 95.5 % (21/22) for MW ablation and 95.0 % (19/20) for RF ablation. In a 5.1-month follow-up, the LTP rate was 18.2 % (4/22) in the MW ablation group and 15.0 % (3/20) in the RF ablation group.

Conclusion: MW ablation using a modified cooled-shaft antenna produces a larger ablation zone than RF ablation, with an efficacy similar to RF ablation in local tumour control. MW ablation is a safe and promising treatment of sHCC.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Microwaves / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Swine
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography