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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2011 Mar;39(3):348-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2010.06.004.

Is radiofrequency thermal ablation a safe and effective procedure in the treatment of pulmonary malignancies?

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Tangdu Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, China.



Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been recently applied as an alternative option of pulmonary surgery in the treatment of pulmonary malignancies. In this study, we assessed the risk associated with percutaneous RFA, and discussed its safety and efficacy.


The clinical data of 329 consecutive patients with primary (n = 237) and metastatic (n = 92) lung tumor treated with RFA from 1999 to 2006 in this hospital were considered for this study, and the character and clinical data of these patients were analyzed. Complications, local progression, and overall survival at 1, 2 and 5 years of these patients were evaluated.


Following the procedure 63 (19.1%) patients presented with pneumothorax, 14 (4.2%) with hemoptysis (one death), 10 (3.0%) hemothorax, 15 (4.5%) pneumonia, and three (0.9%) pericardial tamponade (one death); the 30-day mortality after the procedure was 0.6%. Needle-track implantation was observed in six (1.8%) patients. Median progression-free interval was 21.6 months. The overall survival at 1, 2 and 5 years was 68.2%, 35.3%, and 20.1%, respectively. A total of 78 (23.7%) patients developed local progression during the follow-up. Significant difference in the risk of local progression was found in tumors more than 4 cm; however, no significant difference was found in tumors less than 3 cm and 3-4 cm in our group.


RAF is a safe and well-tolerated procedure with satisfied efficacy in the treatment of malignant lung nodules. To avoid complications with potential fatal outcome, adequate training and careful patient selection by a multidisciplinary team might be helpful.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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