Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), the use of electrodes to heat and destroy abnormal tissue, is a safe and effective treatment for eradicating liver tumors that are in contact with the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, says one study in the November 2004 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, while a separate study in that same issue says that RFA becomes even more effective when alcohol is injected into a liver tumor before an RFA procedure.
In the first study, researchers from the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, analyzed 41 patients who each had a liver tumor abutting the GI tract. RFA was performed on these patients and, upon follow-up, 34 of the 41 tumors were found to be eradicated, with no bowel-related complications occurring in any of the 41 patients.
According to Hyo K. Lim, MD, one of the authors of the study, RFA is considered a safe treatment for liver tumors, but investigators have warned against injuries that might occur when the tumors are touching the GI tract. "Many investigators have cautioned that RFA of tumors abutting the bowel could result in collateral thermal damage to the bowel. Also, there is potential for the tines of the electrode to perforate the bowel." According to the studys results, however, this isnt the case, said Dr. Lim.
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