Data from Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology - Curated by EPG Health - Date available

Background and aims: Thermo-ablation by radiofrequency is recognized as a curative treatment for early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma. However, local recurrence may occur because of incomplete peripheral tumor destruction. Multipolar radiofrequency has been developed to increase the size of the maximal ablation zone. We aimed to compare the efficacy of monopolar and multipolar radiofrequency for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma and determine factors predicting failure.

Methods: A total of 171 consecutive patients with 214 hepatocellular carcinomas were retrospectively included. One hundred fifty-eight tumors were treated with an expandable monopolar electrode and 56 with a multipolar technique using several linear bipolar electrodes. Imaging studies at 6 weeks after treatment, then every 3 months, assessed local effectiveness. Radiofrequency failure was defined as persistent residual tumor after two sessions (primary radiofrequency failure) or local tumor recurrence during follow-up. This study received institutional review board approval (number 2014/77).

Results: Imaging showed complete tumor ablation in 207 of 214 lesions after the first session of radiofrequency. After a second session, only two cases of residual viable tumor were observed. During follow-up, there were 46 local tumor recurrences. Thus, radiofrequency failure occurred in 48/214 (22.4%) cases. By multivariate analysis, technique (P < 0.001) and tumor size (P = 0.023) were independent predictors of radiofrequency failure. Failure rate was lower with the multipolar technique for tumors < 25 mm (P = 0.023) and for tumors between 25 and 45 mm (P = 0.082). There was no difference for tumors ≥ 45 mm (P = 0.552).

Conclusions: Compared to monopolar radiofrequency, multipolar radiofrequency improves tumor ablation with a subsequent lower rate of local tumor recurrence.

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