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Radiofrequency ablation or percutaneous ethanol injection for the treatment of liver tumors

Author(s): Daniel Ansari | Roland Andersson

Journal: World Journal of Gastroenterology
ISSN 1007-9327

Volume: 18;
Issue: 10;
Start page: 1003;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Colorectal liver metastases | Hepatocellular cancer | Liver resection | Percutaneous ethanol injection | Radiofrequency ablation

The liver is a common location of both primary and secondary malignancies. For unresectable liver cancer, many local ablative therapies have been developed. These include e.g., percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI), percutaneous acetic acid injection, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), cryoablation, microwave ablation, laser-induced thermotherapy, and high-intensity focused ultrasound. RFA has recently gained interest and is the most widely applied thermoablative technique. RFA allows more effective tumor control in fewer treatment sessions compared with PEI, but with a higher rate of complications. However, there are certain circumstances where PEI therapy represents a better strategy to control liver tumors than RFA, especially in situations where RFA is difficult, for example when large vessels surround the tumor. In the context of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), both RFA and PEI are feasible and of benefit in non-operable patients. RFA seems superior to PEI in HCC > 2 cm, and the combination of interventions may be of benefit in selected patients. Liver resection is superior to RFA for patients with HCC meeting the Milan criteria, but RFA can be employed in tumors ≤ 3 cm and where there is an increased expected operative mortality. In addition, some lines of evidence indicate that RFA and PEI can be employed as a bridge to liver transplantation. The use of RFA in colorectal liver metastases is currently limited to unresectable disease and for patients unfit for surgery. The aim of this article is to summarize the current status of RFA in the management of liver tumors and compare it to the cheap and readily available technique of PEI.
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