The patients underwent CT-guided radiofrequency ablation (RFA) at Wake Forest Baptist for kidney tumours ranging in size from 0.6 cm to 8.8 cm. A total of 125 tumours in 104 patients were treated over the period 2000 to 2006. In all of the patients, a biopsy had confirmed the presence of renal cell carcinomas (RCC), a common type of renal malignancy.

Of 95 tumours that were smaller than 3.7 cm all were completely eradicated by a single treatment, along with 14 of the larger tumours. Seven more of the 16 remaining larger tumours were eradicated after a second treatment, for a total 93 percent success rate for all 125 tumours. The results were based on follow-up exams over an average of about 14 months.

“This is the largest treatment group to date of patients with biopsy-proven renal malignancies,” said Ronald J. Zagoria, M.D., a professor of radiology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, lead author on the study. “The results – a high cure rate and low complication rate – establish that at institutions with experience doing this procedure, this is an alternative method for treating small renal malignancies in patients who are not good surgical candidates.”

RFA uses a needle-like treatment probe, guided by computed tomography (CT) as it is inserted through the skin into the tumour. The probe’s high-frequency alternating current heats the tumour tissue and destroys it. The technique has been used successfully in liver tumours since the early 1990s and has more recently been adapted for treatment of RCC.

“Renal cell carcinomas that are smaller than 3.7 cm in diameter can be reliably and safely eradicated with percutaneous RFA,” Zagoria and his colleagues conclude in the report. However, Zagoria cautioned that RFA is not recommended if patients are good surgical candidates who are healthy, younger, and have two normal kidneys, because long-term follow-up is lacking and therefore the durability of cure is not confirmed.; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center