Gut Liver.  2010 Sep;4(Suppl 1):S113-S118.

Radiofrequency Ablation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Pros and Cons

  • 1Department of Radiology and Center for Imaging Science, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Among locoregional treatments for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been accepted as the most popular alternative to curative transplantation or resection, and it shows an excellent local tumor control rate and acceptable morbidity. The benefits of RFA have been universally validated by the practice guidelines of international societies of hepatology. The main advantages of RFA include 1) it is minimally invasive with acceptable morbidity, 2) it enables excellent local tumor control, 3) it has promising long-term survival, and 4) it is a multimodal approach. Based on these pros, RFA will play an important role in managing the patient with early HCC (smaller than 3 cm with fewer than four tumors). The main limitations of current RFA technology in hepatic ablation include 1) limitation of ablation volume, 2) technically infeasible in some tumors due to conspicuity and dangerous location, and 3) the heat-sink effect. Many technical approaches have been introduced to overcome those limitations, including a novel guiding modality, use of artificial fluid or air, and combined treatment strategies. RFA will continue to play a role as a representative ablative modality in the management of HCC, even in the era of targeted agents.


Radiofrequency ablation; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Image-guided tumor ablation; Thermal ablation; Loco-regional therapy
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