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Urology. 2005 Dec;66(6):1176-80.

Complications after percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of renal tumors.

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Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.



To evaluate our experience with percutaneous radiofrequency ablation (pRFA) to determine common characteristics of patients with complications, to elucidate possible relative contraindications to therapy.


Medical records of all patients undergoing pRFA were reviewed for demographic data, medical and surgical history, indication, tumor characteristics, and treatment information (complications and management). The group of patients with complications was analyzed for common characteristics.


From January 2000 to September 2003, 24 patients (mean age 61 years, 5:1 male/female) with 32 renal tumors were treated with pRFA. Indications for pRFA included prior renal surgery and/or chronic renal insufficiency, significant medical disease, patient choice, von Hippel-Lindau disease, and treatment of a metastasis. Average pretreatment tumor size was 2.4 cm (range 0.5-8.6 cm). Of the 5 patients experiencing complications from pRFA treatment, 2 developed perinephric hematomas, 1 had a persistent urinoma and proximal ureteral stricture, and 2 had colonic injuries. Among patients with complications, 3 of 5 had undergone prior partial nephrectomy on the pRFA-treated kidney. Two of four patients treated for multiple tumors and 57% of patients (4 of 7) with anteriorly located tumors experienced complications.


Early experience with pRFA for renal tumor seems promising, but patient selection criteria are evolving. On the basis of our limited experience, we recommend caution when using renal pRFA in patients with prior partial nephrectomy, multiple tumors treated in the same setting, and tumors located anteriorly or centrally. Further clinical experience will help establish guidelines for the use of this powerful technology in the management of renal tumors.

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