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Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Apr;87(4):1030-6; discussion 1036-9. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2008.12.061.

Radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of pulmonary metastases.

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  • 1Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery Institute at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.



Surgical resection is the preferred treatment in selected patients with pulmonary metastases. In high-risk patients, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) may offer an alternative option. RFA may be used alone or combined with surgical resection as a lung parenchymal-sparing approach. Our objectives were to evaluate the intermediate term outcomes after RFA and to determine the prognostic variables associated with outcome in patients with pulmonary metastases.


Thoracic surgeons evaluated and performed RFA under computed tomography (CT) guidance or combined with surgical resection. Patients were monitored in the thoracic surgery clinic for recurrence and survival.


Twenty-two patients (10 men, 12 women; median age, 63 years [range, 37 to 88]) underwent RFA. The primary cancer was colorectal in 9 (41%), renal in 2 (9%), sarcoma in 4 (18%), and other in 7 (32%). CT-guided RFA was the sole treatment in 17 patients (77%) and combined with surgical resection in 5 (23%). No procedurally related deaths occurred. At a mean follow-up of 27 months (range, 13.3 to 53.6 months), 9 patients are alive. The median survival was 29 months (95% confidence interval, 9.1 to 33.8). Lesion size was an important prognostic variable associated with overall and disease-free survival (p < 0.05).


RFA is safe in this group of pulmonary metastases patients, with reasonable results. Surgical resection remains the standard for resectable patients, but RFA offers an alternative in selected patients or may be used as a parenchymal-sparing approach in combination with surgical resection in selected patients.

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