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Abdom Imaging. 2005 Jul-Aug;30(4):401-8.

Percutaneous image-guided radiofrequency ablation in the therapeutic management of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Division of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Department of Oncology, Transplants, and Advanced Technologies in Medicine, University of Pisa, I-56126 Pisa, Italy.


Owing to surveillance programs for detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with cirrhosis, more tumors are being detected at an early, asymptomatic stage. Percutaneous ablation is considered the best treatment option for patients with Child-Pugh class A or B cirrhosis and a single, nodular-type HCC smaller than 5 cm or as many as three HCC lesions, each smaller than 3 cm, when surgical resection or liver transplantation is not suitable. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has emerged as the most powerful method for percutaneous treatment of early-stage HCC. Recent studies have shown that RFA can achieve more effective local tumor control than ethanol injection and with fewer treatment sessions. In a randomized trial, local recurrence-free survival rates were significantly higher in patients who received RFA than in those treated by ethanol injection, and treatment allocation was confirmed as an independent prognostic factor by multivariate analysis. Due to advances in radiofrequency technology, RFA also has been used to treat patients with more advanced tumors. Preliminary reports have shown that RFA performed after balloon catheter occlusion of the hepatic artery, transarterial embolization, or chemoembolization results in increased volumes of coagulation necrosis, thus enabling successful destruction of large HCC lesions. This report reviews the current status of percutaneous, image-guided RFA in the therapeutic management of HCC.

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