Objective: To facilitate precise local ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in a setting of combined ablation and transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), we evaluated accuracy and efficiency of a novel technique for navigated positioning of ablation probes using intrahepatic tumor referencing and electromagnetic (EM) guidance, in a porcine model.
Methods: An angiographic wire with integrated EM reference sensor at its tip was inserted via a transarterial femoral access and positioned in the vicinity of artificial liver tumors. The resulting offset distance between the tumor center and the intrahepatic endovascular EM reference was calculated. Subsequently, EM tracked ablation probes were inserted percutaneously and navigated toward the tumor center, relying on continuous EM guidance via the intrahepatic reference. Targeting accuracy was assessed as the Euclidean distance between the tip of the ablation probe and the tumor center (Target Positioning Error, TPE). Procedural efficiency was assessed as time efforts for tumor referencing and tumor targeting.
Results: In 6 animals, 124 targeting measurements were performed with an offset distance < 30 mm (clinically most feasible position), resulting in a mean TPE of 2.9 ± 1.6 mm. No significant correlation between the TPE and different intrahepatic offset distances (range 21 to 61 mm, n = 365) was shown as long as the EM reference was placed within the liver. However, the mean TPE increased when placing the EM reference externally on the animal skin (p < 0.01). TPE was similar when targeting under continuous ventilation or in apnea (p = 0.50). Mean time for tumor referencing and navigated targeting was 6.5 ± 3.8 minutes and 14 ± 8 seconds, respectively.
Conclusion: The proposed technique allows precise and efficient navigated positioning of ablation probes into liver tumors in the animal model. We introduce a simple approach suitable for combined ablation and TACE of HCC in a single treatment session.