Factors Influencing the Local Failure Rate of Radiofrequency Ablation of Colorectal Liver Metastases

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The prognosis of patients with colorectal cancer is poor, especially when there is distant metastatic disease. Local ablation of tumor by radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has emerged as a safe and effective new treatment modality, but its long-term efficacy may be hindered by renewed local tumor growth at the site of RFA. The objectives of this study were to identify risk factors for local RFA failure and to define exclusion criteria for RFA treatment of colorectal liver metastases.


A total of 199 lesions in 87 patients were ablated with RFA. Factors influencing local failure rates were identified and compared with data from the literature.


The local failure rate was 47.2%, and the average time to local disease progression was 6.5 months. Factors that significantly correlated with increased failure rates were metachronous occurrence of liver metastases, large mean lesion size, and central tumor location.


Because accurate electrode placement is pivotal in achieving adequate tumor necrosis, RFA should not be performed percutaneously when electrode placement is impaired. We suggest that lesions >5 cm and lesions located near great vessels or adjacent organs should be treated with open RFA, thus allowing vascular inflow occlusion and complete mobilization of the liver. Lesions that are difficult to reach by electrodes should be approached by an open procedure.

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