Image-Guided Percutaneous Thermal Ablation for the Palliative Treatment of Chest Wall Masses

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Abstract

Objectives:

To evaluate the palliative benefits of image-guided thermal ablation for the treatment of painful tumors affecting the chest wall.

Methods:

Thirty-nine patients, median age 65 years, underwent percutaneous thermal ablation of 44 chest wall masses. Thirty-eight radiofrequency ablations (RFAs), 3 microwave ablations (MWAs), and 3 cryoablations were performed. Subjective pain reports at 1 week and 1 month postablation were scored from 0 to 4 based on a standard Likert pain relief scale, with 2 or higher representing clinically significant pain relief.

Results:

Patients were followed for a median of 6 months. Overall, 31 of 44 procedures (70.5%) resulted in significant pain relief. Improvement followed 15 of 15 (100%) of ablations that were performed within 90 days of treatment with palliative external-beam radiation therapy (XRT), compared with 16 of 29 (55.2%) of the remaining procedures. Mean pain relief score at 1 month was 3.86 for the 15 combined procedures versus 1.96 for the 29 remaining procedures (P < 0.001). Local pain recurred after 5 of 31 positive responses (16.1%). Median survival was 11.2 ± 2.3 months for patients with significant pain relief and 4.3 ± 1.4 months for nonresponders (P < 0.001). Adverse events included a transient symptom “flare” (n = 5, 11.4%) and the exacerbation of a preexisting brachial plexopathy.

Conclusions:

Thermal ablation results in significant pain relief for the majority of patients and shows evidence of synergistic benefit when temporally combined with XRT. This minimally invasive technique appears to be a safe and durable alternative for the palliation of chest wall masses.

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