Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma and Thermal Ablation: Long-term Results of An Italian Retrospective Multicenter Study

J Clin Transl Hepatol. 2019 Dec 28;7(4):287-292. doi: 10.14218/JCTH.2019.00036. Epub 2019 Nov 27.


Background and Aims: Despite resection being considered the treatment of choice for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), percutaneous thermal ablation can be an alternative treatment for patients unfit for surgery. Our aim was to compare long-term results of percutaneous sonographically-guided radiofrequency ablation (RFA) with high-powered microwave ablation (MWSA) in treatment of ICC. Methods: Results of 71 ICC patients with 98 nodules treated with RFA (36 patients) or MWSA (35 patients) between January 2008 and June 2018 in 5 Interventional Ultrasound centers of Southern Italy were retrospectively reviewed. Cumulative overall survival curves were calculated with the Kaplan-Meyer method and differences with the log-rank test. Eleven possible factors affecting survival were analyzed. Results: Overall survival of the entire series was 88%, 65%, 45% and 34% at 12, 36, 60 and 80 months, respectively. Patients treated with MWSA survived longer than patients treated with RFA (p < 0.005). The MWSA group with ICC nodules ≤3 cm or nodules up to 4 cm survived longer than the RFA group (p < 0.0005). In patients with nodules >4 cm, no significant difference was found. Disease-free survival and progression-free survival were better in the MWSA group compared to the RFA group (p < 0.005). Diameter of nodules and MWSA were independent factors predicting a better survival. No major complications were observed. Conclusions: MWSA is superior to RFA in treating ICC unfit for surgery, achieving better long-term survival in small (≤3 cm) ICC nodules as well as nodules up to 4 cm of neoplastic tumors and should replace RFA.

Keywords: Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma; Microwaves; Percutaneous treatment; Radiofrequency; Thermal ablation.