Radiofrequency versus microwave ablation for intraoperative treatment of colorectal liver metastases.



This single centre retrospective cohort study analyzed patients who underwent ultrasound guided intraoperative ablation as a part of the surgical treatment of CRLM between 2013 and 2018. In September 2015, MWA was substituted for RFA. Outcomes included unsuccessful ablation rates at 1-year postoperative, 30-days major complication rates, progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Logistic regression models were used for univariable and multivariable analyses to identify predictors of unsuccessful ablation.


Forty-one patients underwent RFA of 98 lesions (median 2) and 79 patients underwent MWA of 193 lesions (median 2). The median diameter of the ablated lesions was 9 mm for both RFA and MWA. Unsuccessful ablation was observed in 7 metastases (7.1%) after RFA and 14 metastases (7.3%) after MWA (p = 1.000). Complications requiring re-intervention were observed after 8 procedures, 2 complications in the RFA group (4.9%) versus 6 complications in the MWA group (7.6%, p = 0.714), of which 6 were liver-related. Ninety-day mortality did not occur. Ablation technique was not associated with unsuccessful ablations. CRLM size was associated with unsuccessful ablation in the per lesion analysis (p < 0.001).


Intraoperative RFA and MWA were equally effective for treatment of small CRLM.


Intraoperative radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and the newer technique of microwave ablation (MWA) can both be of additional value in parenchyma preserving surgical treatment of colorectal liver metastases (CRLM). MWA is less influenced by the heat-sink effect of surrounding vessels and can generate more heat in less time but RFA is still widely used. True comparing studies are scarce.

More about this publication

European journal of surgical oncology : the journal of the European Society of Surgical Oncology and the British Association of Surgical Oncology
  • Volume 48
  • Issue nr. 4
  • Pages 834-840
  • Publication date 01-04-2022

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