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Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2010 Jun;9(3):306-11.

A prospective study on radiofrequency ablation locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.



Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been suggested as a new treatment option for patients with locally advanced cancer. This study aimed to prospectively evaluate the efficacy and safety of intraoperative RFA in patients with unresectable, locally advanced, non-metastatic carcinoma of the pancreatic head.


RFA was the first step of the surgical procedure and was carried out on the mobilized pancreatic head followed by biliary by-pass and gastrojejunal-anastomosis. Intra- and post-operative morbidity and mortality, performance status, pain control, quality of life, and survival at 24 months were evaluated.


Seven patients (3 men and 4 women; median age 66 years, range 47-80 years) were studied and 4 were eligible for treatment. The RFA procedure was carried out in 3 of the 4 patients; in one patient it was not carried out because of the upstaging of the neoplasm. In all 3 patients RFA achieved complete necrosis of the lesion. A biliary fistula developed 7 days after the procedure in one patient; all 3 patients developed ascites 8.6 days (range 7-9 days) on average after RFA. All patients died respectively, at 3, 4, and 5 months after the treatment.


In our experience, RFA is a feasible procedure, but it presents a very high rate of postoperative complications. Moreover, pain control, life quality and survival rate are poor. The few data suggest no impact on survival.

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