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Unresectable colorectal cancer liver metastases treated by intraoperative radiofrequency ablation with or without resection. BJS 2012; 99: 558-565.

Published: 16th January 2012

Authors: S. Evrard, M. Rivoire, J.‐P. Arnaud, E. Lermite, C. Bellera, M. Fonck et al.


Despite neoadjuvant chemotherapy, few patients with colorectal cancer liver metastases (CRLM) are eligible for liver resection. The aim of the present study was to investigate the efficacy of intraoperative radiofrequency ablation (IRFA) in the treatment of unresectable CRLM.


Patients with unresectable metastases confined to the liver were eligible for this prospective, multicentre phase II study conducted between 2003 and 2008. They received IRFA treatment either with or without parenchymal resection, and underwent clinical and pathological examinations. The primary endpoint was complete hepatic response at 3 months. Overall, event‐free and local progression‐free survival, morbidity and quality of life were also examined.


Fifty‐two patients were included, all of whom received neoadjuvant chemotherapy. They had a median of 5 (range 1–13) metastases, mostly bilateral or recurrent. A complete hepatic response was observed in 39 patients (75 (95 per cent confidence interval (c.i.) 61 to 86) per cent). Of ten patients with hepatic recurrence at 3 months, two relapses were at the site of ablation. Median follow‐up was 2·9 (95 per cent c.i. 2·5 to 3·6) years. The 1‐year local progression‐free survival rate was 46 (95 per cent c.i. 32 to 59) per cent, the 3‐year event‐free survival rate was 10 (95 per cent c.i. 4 to 21) per cent and the 5‐year overall survival rate was 43 (95 per cent c.i. 21 to 64) per cent. Twenty patients had postoperative complications, including one death. Quality of life increased over time for patients without disease progression.


IRFA, either with or without resection, is a promising treatment option for patients with unresectable CRLM. Registration number: NTC00210106 (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov). Copyright © 2012 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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