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Eur Radiol. 2001;11(6):914-21.

Percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of small hepatocellular carcinoma: long-term results.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, General Hospital, Via Taverna 49, 29100 Piacenza, Italy.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and the safety of percutaneous radiofrequency (RF) thermal ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in 88 patients with a long follow-up, and to compare conventional electrodes and expandable electrodes. Eighty-eight patients with 101 hepatocellular carcinoma nodules (< or = 3.5 cm in diameter) underwent RF thermal ablation by means of either conventional electrodes or an expandable electrode. Therapeutic efficacy was evaluated with dynamic contrast CT, serum alpha-feto protein level, US examination at the end of the treatment, and during follow-up. Complete necrosis was obtained in all tumor nodules in a mean number of 3.3 sessions (tumor treated by conventional electrodes) or 1.5 sessions (tumor treated by expandable electrode). The mean follow-up was 34 months; overall survival rate was 33% at 5 years. Disease-free survival at 5 years was 3%; local recurrence rate was 29% in patients treated with conventional electrodes; 14% in patients treated with the expandable electrode. Two major complications and 14 minor complications were observed. Radiofrequency thermal ablation in small HCC is very effective with a low percentage of major complications. The use of an expandable electrode substantially reduced the number of treatment sessions but did not modify the overall survival rate and the disease-free survival rate.

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