Ultrasound-Guided Radiofrequency Thermal Ablation of Liver Tumors: Percutaneous, Laparoscopic, and Open Surgical Approaches

Junji Machi, Shinji Uchida, Kenneth Sumida, Whitney M L Limm, Scott A Hundahl, Andrew J. Oishi, Nancy L. Furumoto, Robert H. Oishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


Only 10% to 20% of patients with primary and colorectal metastatic liver tumors are candidates for curative surgical resection. Even after curative treatment, tumors recur commonly in the liver. As a less invasive therapy, radiofrequency thermal ablation (RFA) of primary, metastatic, and recurrent liver tumors was performed under percutaneous, laparoscopic, or open intraoperative ultrasound guidance. The safety and local control efficacy of RFA were investigated. RFA was performed mostly in patients with unresectable hepatomas or metastatic liver tumors. Patients with large tumors, major vessel or bile duct invasion, limited extrahepatic metastases, or liver dysfunction were not excluded. An RFA system with a 15-gauge electrode-cannula with four-pronged retractable needles was used. All patients were followed for more than 8 months to assess morbidity and mortality, and to determine tumor recurrence. Sixty RFA operations were performed in 46 patients: 11 patients underwent repeat RFA once or twice. A total of 204 tumors were treated: 70 hepatomas and 134 metastatic tumors. Tumor size ranged from 5 mm to 180 mm (mean 36 mm). RFA was performed in 29 operations for 81 tumors percutaneously, in seven operations for 14 tumors laparoscopically, and in 24 operations for 109 tumors by open surgery. Combined colorectal resection was carried out in five operations and combined hepatic resection was carried out in three operations. There was one death (1.7%) from liver failure, and there were three major complications (5%): one case of bile leakage and two biliary strictures due to thermal injury. There were no intra-abdominal infectious or bleeding complications. The length of hospital stay ranged from 0 to 2, 1 to 3, and 4 to 7 days for percutaneous, laparoscopic, and open surgical RFA, respectively. During a mean follow-up period of 20.5 months, local tumor recurrence at the RFA site was diagnosed in 18 (8.8%) of 204 tumors. The risk factors for local recurrence included large tumor size and major vessel invasion: recurrence rates for tumors less than 4 cm, 4 to 10 cm, and greater than 10 cm, and for those with vessel invasion were 3.3%, 14.7%, 50%, and 47.8%, respectively. Ten of 18 tumors recurring locally were retreated by RFA, and eight of them showed no further recurrence. Ultrasound-guided RFA is a relatively safe, well-tolerated, and versatile treatment option that offers excellent local control of primary and metastatic liver tumors. The appropriate use of percutaneous, laparoscopic, and open surgical RFA is beneficial in the management of patients with liver tumors in a variety of situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-489
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepatoma
  • Intraoperative ultrasound
  • Laparoscopic ultrasound
  • Liver metastasis
  • Radiofrequency thermal ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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