AIM: To retrospectively evaluate the long-term survival of patients that received radiofrequency ablation (RFA) therapies of colorectal liver metastases.
METHODS: In 2005 to 2008, RFA of 105 colorectal liver metastases (CRLM) were performed on 49 patients in our institution. The liver metastases were evaluated, both before and after ablation therapies, with contrast enhanced computerised tomography and contrast enhanced ultrasonography. Histological evidence of malignant liver metastases was obtained in the few instances where contrast enhanced ultrasonography gave equivocal results. Accesses to the CRLM were guided ultrasonically in all patients. The data obtained from records of these ablations were retrospectively analysed and survival data were compared with existing studies in the literature.
RESULTS: 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year survival rates, when no stringent selection criteria were applied, were 92%, 65%, 51%, 41% and 29% respectively. To explore the impact of the number and size of CRLM on patients' survival, an exclusion of 13 patients (26.5%) with number of CRLM ≥ 5 and tumour size ≥ 40 mm resulted in 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-year survival rates improving to 94%, 69%, 53%, 42% and 31% respectively. It is of note that 9 of 49 patients developed extra-hepatic metastases, not visible or seen on pre-treatment scans, just after RFA treatment. These patients had poorer survival. The development of extra-hepatic metastases in nearly 20% of the patients included in our study can partly account for modestly lower survival rates as compared with earlier studies in the literature.
CONCLUSION: Our study underscores the fact that optimum patients' selection before embarking on RFA treatment is vitally important to achieving a superior outcome.