Microwave ablation of primary and secondary liver tumours: ex vivo, in vivo, and clinical characterisation

Int J Hyperthermia. 2017 Feb;33(1):34-42. doi: 10.1080/02656736.2016.1196830. Epub 2016 Jul 25.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to compare the performance of a microwave ablation (MWA) apparatus in preclinical and clinical settings.

Materials and method: The same commercial 2.45 GHz MWA apparatus was used throughout this study. In total 108 ablations at powers ranging from 20 to 130 W and lasting from 3 to 30 min were obtained on ex vivo bovine liver; 28 ablations at 60 W, 80 W and 100 W lasting 5 and 10 min were then obtained in an in vivo swine model. Finally, 32 hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and 19 liver metastases in 46 patients were treated percutaneously by administering 60 W for either 5 or 10 min. The treatment outcome was characterised in terms of maximum longitudinal and transversal axis of the induced ablation zone.

Results: Ex vivo ablation volumes increased linearly with deposited energy (r2 = 0.97), with higher sphericity obtained at lower power for longer ablation times. Larger ablations were obtained on liver metastases compared to HCCs treated with 60 W for 10 min (p < 0.003), as ablation diameters were 4.1 ± 0.6 cm for metastases and 3.7 ± 0.3 cm for HCC, with an average sphericity index of 0.70 ± 0.04. The results on the in vivo swine model at 60 W were substantially smaller than the ex vivo and clinical results (either populations). No statistically significant difference was observed between ex vivo results at 60 W and HCC results (p > 0.08).

Conclusions: For the selected MW ablation device, ex vivo data on bovine liver was more predictive of the actual clinical performance on liver malignancies than an in vivo porcine model. Equivalent MW treatments yielded a significantly different response for HCC and metastases at higher deposited energy, suggesting that outcomes are not only device-specific but must also be characterised on a tissue-by-tissue basis.

Keywords: Ablation; comparison; ex vivo; in vivo; microwave; tumour.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Ablation Techniques*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / surgery
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Microwaves / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Swine
  • Treatment Outcome