Certain patients should be monitored after radiofrequency ablation of liver malignancy

August 20, 2007
Wendy Despain

Ultrasound-guided radiofrequency is generally a safe treatment for liver masses and carries an acceptable level of risk, but patients with large tumors and baseline liver function impairment have a higher risk of complications, according to researchers in Taiwan.

Ultrasound-guided radiofrequency is generally a safe treatment for liver masses and carries an acceptable level of risk, but patients with large tumors and baseline liver function impairment have a higher risk of complications, according to researchers in Taiwan.

Dr. Tsung-Ming Chen and colleagues in the hepatogastroenterology division of the internal medicine department at Tungs' Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital in Taiwan published their paper online in August with the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. They studied results from all patients at a single center treated by one physician, 104 in all, with a total of 183 tumors.

The analysis included 172 ultrasound-guided percutaneous radiofrequency ablation sessions between May 2003 and March 2006 on 86 hepatocellular carcinomas and 18 hepatic metastatic tumors. They found only nine major complications as defined by the standardized Society of Interventional Radiology grading system, resulting in an incidence of 5.2% chance per session.

These nine complications included two cases of transient liver function impairment, one case of liver abscess, one case of septicemia, two cases of tumor seeding along the ablated track, one case of colon perforation, one case of acalculous cholecystitis and one case of hemocholecyst. In analyzing these cases, they found tumor size and baseline liver function reserve were the only risk factors contributing to the complication of transient liver function impairment.

The researchers concluded that patients with a large tumor size and baseline liver function impairment should be watched more carefully in follow-up.

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