Ablative or Surgical Treatment for Small Renal Masses (T1a): A Single-Center Comparison of Perioperative Morbidity and Complications

Curr Oncol. 2024 Feb 6;31(2):933-940. doi: 10.3390/curroncol31020069.


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the treatment safety of thermal ablation compared to surgical treatment of T1a tumors (small renal masses) at a high-volume center. We conducted an observational single-center study based on data collected form the National Swedish Kidney Cancer Register (NSKCR) between 2015 and 2021. In total, 444 treatments of T1a tumors were included. Patients underwent surgery (partial or total nephrectomy) or ablative treatment-radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or microwave ablation (MWA). Patient characteristics were retrieved from patient records, and tumor complexity was estimated from pre-interventional CT scans. The odds ratio (OR) of suffering from a severe surgical complication following ablative treatment was estimated using a logistic regression model adjusted for age, BMI, ASA physical status classification, smoking status and RENAL nephrometry score. The frequency of severe surgical complications was 6.3% (16/256 treatments) after surgical intervention and 2.1% (4/188 treatments) following ablative treatment. Our primary hypothesis that ablative treatment is associated with a lower risk of severe surgical complications is supported by the results (OR 0.39; 0.19-0.79; p = 0.013). When adjusting for age, smoking status, ASA score, BMI score and RENAL nephrometry score, we see an even greater difference between the two groups (OR 0.34; 0.17-0.68; p = 0.002). Our study was limited by the differences in patient and tumor characteristics between the two compared groups and the study design. If oncological outcomes are found to be comparable, ablative treatment should be considered as a first-line treatment for all small renal masses.

Keywords: ablation; intervention; kidney cancer; surgery; treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Nephrectomy / adverse effects
  • Nephrectomy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome