Radiofrequency ablation and percutaneous ethanol injection in patients with small hepatocellular carcinoma: a comparative study

M Ikeda, S Okada, H Ueno, T Okusaka, H Kuriyama
Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology 2001, 31 (7): 322-6

BACKGROUND: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a novel thermal ablation technique to achieve coagulative necrosis of hepatocellular carcinoma. A study was conducted to compare the antitumor effect and adverse effect of RFA with those of percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI) in patients with solitary small hepatocellular carcinoma.

METHODS: The study population consisted of 119 consecutive patients with solitary hepatocellular carcinoma smaller than 3 cm in diameter. Among these, 23 patients were treated with RFA and the remaining 96 patients were treated with PEI. The antitumor effects of both treatments were assessed by contrast-enhanced computed tomography 1 month after treatment.

RESULTS: Complete tumor necrosis was achieved in 23 patients (100%) of the RFA group and 90 patients (94%) of the PEI group (p = 0.48) and local recurrence rates at 1 year were 15% in the RFA group and 14% in the PEI group (p = 0.80). RFA required an average of 1.5 sessions to achieve complete necrosis, whereas PEI required an average of 4.0 sessions. As a consequence, the hospital stay in the RFA group (median 10 days) was significantly shorter than that in the PEI group (median 17 days). There were no serious adverse effects or complications except for one case of cholangitis in the PEI group, although deterioration of serum transaminase after RFA was significantly more severe than that after PEI.

CONCLUSION: RFA achieved complete tumor necrosis for small hepatocellular carcinoma with fewer treatment sessions compared with PEI. There were no serious complications.

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