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Ultraschall Med. 1999 Apr;20(2):47-53.

Percutaneous radiofrequency thermal ablation combined with transcatheter arterial embolization in the treatment of large hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital of Piacenza, Italy.



To evaluate whether the combination of hepatic segmental transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) with percutaneous radiofrequency (RF) ablation can increase the volume of coagulation necrosis to treat patients with large hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


Fourteen patients with cirrhosis and HCC whose greatest diameter ranged from 3.8 to 6.8 cm (mean, 5.2 cm) underwent segmental TAE followed within 3 days by RF interstitial thermal ablation with an expandable needle electrode inserted into the tumour under sonographic guidance, after local anesthesia. We made one or more needle electrode insertions depending on tumor shape. Posttreatment necrosis was evaluated by ultrasonography, dynamic computed tomography (CT) and alpha-fetoprotein dosage in all cases, repeated every three to four months.


Tumor ablation was obtained in one session in 11 (78%) patients (with one needle electrode insertion in 8 patients), in two sessions in 1, in three sessions in 2. In a mean follow-up of 13.2 months (range 6-23) two patients died from unrelated causes; one patient showed multinodular HCC 6 months after the treatment; 4 patients developed new lesions, treated by a new course of RF ablation (3 cases) or by surgery (1 case); therefore 11/12 patients still in follow-up were disease-free. No fatal complications were observed. One month after the treatment, fluid collection at the site of the ablated tumor was observed in one patient which was percutaneously drained.


Percutaneous RF thermal ablation performed after TAE effectively treated HCCs larger than tumors suitable for segmental TAE or RF application alone; the result was achieved in two thirds of the cases in a single session with only one needle electrode insertion.

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