Cryoablation of liver tumours — a review of mechanisms, techniques and clinical outcome

Tom Mala
Minimally Invasive Therapy & Allied Technologies: MITAT 2006, 15 (1): 9-17
Several techniques exist for in situ destruction or ablation of liver tumours not eligible for resection. Cryoablation, i.e. the use of low temperatures to induce local tissue necrosis, was among the first of the thermal ablative techniques widely used. The procedures have typically been performed by surgeons during laparotomy, but recently minimally invasive cryoablation has been reported feasible. The present review focuses on mechanisms of tissue destruction, techniques of ablation including procedural monitoring, and clinical outcome following cryoablation of liver tumours. Plausible causes of tumour persistence at the site of ablation, i.e. local treatment failure, are discussed. Shortcomings exist in monitoring of the freezing process and may be a main cause. The evidence for the long-term outcome following liver tumour cryoablation needs to be improved. Cryoablation has been challenged by other techniques of tumour ablation such as radiofrequency ablation. Randomised trials against these modern techniques may define the role of cryoablation in the treatment of liver tumours. With improved imaging technology and patient selection, cryoablation of liver tumours may hold promise for selected patients.

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