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Hepatology. 2014 Jul;60(1):192-201. doi: 10.1002/hep.27057. Epub 2014 May 27.

Unresectable solitary hepatocellular carcinoma not amenable to radiofrequency ablation: multicenter radiology-pathology correlation and survival of radiation segmentectomy.

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Department of Radiology, Section of Interventional Radiology and Division of Interventional Oncology, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL.


Resection and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) are treatment options for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) <3 cm; there is interest in expanding the role of ablation to 3-5 cm. RFA is considered high-risk when the lesion is in close proximity to critical structures. Combining microcatheter technology and the localized emission properties of Y90, highly selective radioembolization is a possible alternative to RFA in such cases. We assessed the efficacy (response, radiology-pathology correlation, survival) of radiation segmentectomy in solitary HCC not amenable to RFA or resection. Patients with treatment-naïve, unresectable, solitary HCC ≤ 5 cm not amenable to RFA were included in this multicenter study. Administered dose, response rate, time-to-progression (modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors [mRECIST]), radiology-pathology correlation and long-term survival were assessed. In all, 102 patients were included in this study. mRECIST complete response (CR), partial response (PR), and stable disease (SD) were 47/99 (47%), 39/99 (39%), and 12/99 (12%), respectively. Median time-to-disease-progression was 33.1 months. In all, 33/102 (32%) patients were transplanted with a median (interquartile range [IQR]) time-to-transplantation of 6.3 months (3.6-9.7). Pathology revealed 100% and 50-99% necrosis in 17/33 (52%) and 16/33 (48%), respectively. Median overall survival was 53.4 months. Univariate analysis demonstrated a survival benefit for Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) 0 patients. In the multivariate model, age <65, ECOG 0, and Child-Pugh A were characteristics associated with longer survival.


Radiation segmentectomy is an effective technique with a favorable risk profile and radiology-pathology outcomes for solitary HCC ≤ 5 cm. This approach may allow for treatment of HCC in difficult locations. Since RFA and resection are not options given tumor location, there appears to be a strong rationale for this technique as second choice.

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