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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012 Dec;199(6):1393-401. doi: 10.2214/AJR.11.7850.

Effectiveness, safety, and local progression after percutaneous laser ablation for hepatocellular carcinoma nodules up to 4 cm are not affected by tumor location.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Interventional Ultrasound, S. Maria della Pietà Camilliani Hospital, Via S. Rocco 9, Casoria, NA 80026, Italy.



A high-risk location--defined as the tumor margin being less than 5 mm from large vessels or vital structures--represents a well-known limitation and contraindication for radiofrequency ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) nodules. The aim of this study was to verify whether HCC nodule location negatively affected the outcome of percutaneous laser ablation in terms of its primary effectiveness, safety, and ability to prevent local tumor progression.


The medical records and radiologic examinations of 164 cirrhotic patients (90 men, 74 women; mean age ± SD, 68.6 ± 8.3 years) with 182 HCC nodules 4 cm or smaller (mean diameter ± SD, 2.7 ± 0.78 cm) that had been treated by laser ablation between 1996 and 2008 were retrospectively analyzed. One hundred six patients had 116 nodules in high-risk sites (high-risk group), whereas 58 patients had 66 tumors located elsewhere (standard-risk group).


The overall median follow-up was 81 months (range, 6-144 months). The initial complete ablation rate per nodule did not significantly differ between the high-risk group and the standard-risk group (92.2% vs 95.5%, respectively; p = 0.2711). Rates of major complications (high-risk group vs standard-risk group, 1.9% [including one death] vs 0%) and minor complications (5.6% vs 1.0%) were not statistically different between the two groups. Only side effects were recorded significantly more often in high-risk patients than in standard-risk patients (31.5% vs 19.8%; p = 0.049). There was no significant difference in either cumulative incidence of local tumor progression (p = 0.499) or local tumor progression-free survival (p = 0.499, log rank test) between the high-risk group and the standard-risk group.


When laser ablation is used to treat small HCC nodules, tumor location does not have a significant negative impact on the technique's primary effectiveness or safety or on its ability to achieve local control of disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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