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Results of radio frequency ablation of primary and secondary liver tumors: long-term follow-up with computed tomography and positron emission tomography-18F-deoxyfluoroglucose scanning.

BACKGROUND: In the literature, promising results have been obtained with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of primary liver malignancies (e.g. hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC) and secondary liver malignancies (e.g. metastases of colorectal tumors). In our center, positron emission tomography with FDG (FDG-PET) and computed tomography (CT) were used for follow-up. Patient outcome was compared with that in the literature, and PET and CT were analyzed regarding positive and negative predictive values for early detection of tumor recurrence.

METHODS: The data were analyzed of patients who were treated with RFA for primary or secondary liver tumors between January 1999 and December 2002. Indications for treatment with RFA were liver tumors that could not be resected owing to size, number, or tumor location. In all patients, a CT scan was performed before RFA, and follow-up was performed with a CT scan in all patients and with an additional PET scan at various intervals in 11 patients. At evaluation with PET, tumor recurrence was defined as positive uptake of tracer either at the previous RFA lesion or at a new site in the liver.

RESULTS: In total, 15 patients (8 M, 7 F) were treated in 21 sessions with RFA. The mean follow-up period was 16.8 months (range: 7-42). Average age of the patients was 63 years (range: 40-74). One patient had a primary liver tumor; all other patients had metastases of the breast (1), ovary (1), renal cells (1), and colorectal carcinoma (11 patients). The mean number of tumors per patient was 2.7 (range: 1-5). No treatment-related morbidity or mortality occurred. In 4 of 11 patients evaluated with PET at a mean period of 6.8 months, positive uptake of tracer was noted. At CT evaluation, tumor recurrence was observed in 4 of these patients, at a mean time of 9.8 months. Two patients (13.3%) died of cancer recurrence during follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Tumor recurrence is comparable with that in other studies. Centrally located tumors showed more recurrence than peripheral tumors. The use of PET in combination with CT scan at follow-up may lead to earlier detection of tumor recurrence than contrast-enhanced CT alone.

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