Multiple-electrode radiofrequency ablation safe and effective way of treating patients with liver cancer

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Multiple-electrode radiofrequency ablation is a safe and effective way of treating patients with liver cancer that can be completed in less time than current ablation techniques, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

One of the biggest limitations of current radiofrequency ablation techniques is the inability to effectively treat large tumors said Paul Laeseke, PhD, lead author of the study.Current radiofrequency ablation systems can only power one electrode and create relatively small ablation zones, Dr. Laeseke said. Large tumors are treated by sequentially overlapping the small ablation zones--a technique that is both complicated and time consuming, he said.

The study consisted of 38 malignant liver tumors in 23 patients who underwent multiple-electrode radiofrequency ablation. Local control was achieved in 37 of 38 tumors, with 34 of these tumors treated during just one session. The total ablation time was reduced by approximately 54% compared to if the patients would have been treated using a single-electrode system, Dr. Laeseke said.

A reduction in procedure time would make staff and imaging equipment available for other cases, said Dr. Laeseke.The treatment success rates in this study are comparable to those reported in the literature for smaller tumors treated with single-electrode radiofrequency, he said.In other words, the multiple-electrode system allowed us to effectively treat larger tumors in less time.

Dr. Laeseke cautioned though that these are short-term results.While the short-term results are promising and demonstrate that multiple-electrode radiofrequency ablation is safe and effective, longer term follow-up is needed to determine the impact of multiple-electrode radiofrequency ablation on patient survival and tumor recurrence rates, he said.

The full results of this study appear in the June issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, published by the American Roentgen Ray Society.

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