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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jul 8;(3):CD006745. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006745.pub2.

Percutaneous ethanol injection or percutaneous acetic acid injection for early hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Leipzig, Liebigstr. 20, Leipzig, Germany, 04103.



Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common global cancer. When HCC is detected early, interventions such as percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI), percutaneous acetic acid injection (PAI), and radiofrequency thermal ablation (RFTA) have curative potential and represent low invasive alternatives to surgery. The role of PEI or PAI has not been addressed in a systematic review.


To evaluate the beneficial and harmful effects of PEI or PAI in adults with early HCC.


A systematic search was performed in The Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) in The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and ISI Web of Science in May 2009. Meeting abstracts of six oncological and hepatological societies (ASCO, ESMO, ECCO, AASLD, EASL, APASL) and references of articles were handsearched. Researchers in the field were contacted.


Randomised trials comparing PEI or PAI with no intervention, sham intervention, other percutaneous interventions or surgery for the treatment of early HCC were considered regardless of blinding, publication status, or language. Studies comparing RFTA or combination treatments were excluded.


Two authors independently selected trials for inclusion, and extracted and analysed data. The hazard ratios for median overall survival and recurrence-free survival were calculated using the Cox regression model with Parmar's method. Type and number of adverse events were reported descriptively.


Three randomised trials with a total of 261 patients were eligible for inclusion. The risk of bias was high in all trials. Two of the trials compared PEI with PAI. Overall survival (HR 1.47; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.68 to 3.19) and recurrence-free survival (HR 1.42; 95% CI 0.68 to 2.94) were not significantly different. Data on the duration of hospital stay were inconclusive. Data on quality of life were not available. There were only mild adverse events in both treatment modalities.The other trial compared PEI with surgery. There was no significant difference in overall survival (HR 1.57; 95% CI 0.53 to 4.61) and recurrence-free survival (HR 1.35; 95% CI 0.69 to 2.63). No serious adverse events were reported in the PEI group. Three postoperative deaths occurred in the surgery group.


PEI and PAI does not differ significantly regarding benefits and harms in patients with early HCC, but only a limited number of patients have been examined and the bias risk was high in all trials. There is also insufficient evidence to determine whether PEI or segmental liver resection is more effective, although PEI may seem safer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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