Radiofrequency ablation versus radical nephrectomy: clinical outcomes for stage T1b renal cell carcinoma

Radiology. 2014 Jan;270(1):292-9. doi: 10.1148/radiol.13130221. Epub 2013 Oct 28.


Purpose: To compare clinical outcomes of radiofrequency (RF) ablation retrospectively with those after radical nephrectomy in patients with stage T1b renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Materials and methods: This retrospective study was approved by the institutional review board, and the requirement to obtain written informed consent was waived. From June 2002 to March 2012, 60 patients (mean age, 65.2 years; age range, 39-86 years) with a single RCC measuring 4.1-7.0 cm (stage T1b) underwent RF ablation (n = 21) or radical nephrectomy (n = 39). Selective renal artery embolization was performed before RF ablation in eight patients. The overall, RCC-related, and disease-free survival rates, the percentage decrease in the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and safety were compared by using the log-rank (survival), paired and Student t (GFR), and Fisher exact (safety) tests.

Results: The overall survival rate was significantly lower in the RF ablation group than in the radical nephrectomy group (48% vs 97% at 10 years, respectively; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 12.4%, 76.7% vs 78.2%, 99.5%; P < .009). The RCC-related survival rate (94% [95% CI: 62.6%, 99.1%] with RF ablation vs 100% with radical nephrectomy at 10 years) and the disease-free survival rate (88% [95% CI: 59.2%, 96.9%] with RF ablation vs 84% [95% CI: 60.6%, 94.3%] with radical nephrectomy at 10 years, P = .99) were comparable between the two groups. No treatment-related deaths occurred. Although major complication rates were similar between the two patient groups (8.0% [two of 25 patients] vs 5.1% [two of 39 patients], P = .61), the percentage decrease in the GFR was significantly lower in the RF ablation group than in the radical nephrectomy group at the last follow-up (12.5% ± 23.4 vs 32.3% ± 20.8, respectively; P < .003).

Conclusion: RF ablation is a safe procedure for patients at substantial surgical risk for radical nephrectomy, providing comparable RCC-related and disease-free survival and preserving renal function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation*
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nephrectomy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome