Background: Recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after surgical treatment is a common problem. It can be treated by radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or repeated hepatic resection (HR). This report compares both in a retrospective, single-institution database.
Patients and methods: A prospectively collected database was retrospectively analyzed. RFA was performed under ultrasound control using two different monopolar devices. All kinds of access were used: open surgical (n=10), percutaneous (n=13) and laparoscopic (n=4). HR was performed using an ultrasound aspiration device. Indication for a particular treatment was allocated on a case-by-case basis; the final decision was often made intraoperatively.
Results: Survival after RFA (median 40 months) was similar compared to that after HR (48 months, p=0.641, logRank-test). Tumor-free survival was markedly impaired after RFA (15 vs. 29 months). This difference was however not significant (p=0.07, logRank-test). Both groups were different regarding occurrence of cirrhosis, maximal tumor size, time after initial diagnosis and duration of the procedure.
Conclusion: In this non-randomized retrospective trial, survival and disease-free survival was not significantly different when compared between patients treated by RFA and HR. There was however a tendency towards a longer tumor-free survival in the resected patients.