Thermal ablation is an accepted treatment modality for small and central liver tumors. In extensive colorectal liver metastatic disease (CRLM), hepatectomy can be combined with ablation, resulting in a parenchymal-sparing strategy. This may increase salvageability rates in case of recurrence.
All patients with advanced CRLM that underwent combined ablation and resection between April 2012 and April 2021, were retrospectively analyzed from a prospectively maintained database. Primary endpoints include postoperative 30-day morbidity and ablation-site recurrence (ASR). The surgical approaches were compared. Ablated lesions were screened for ASR on postoperative follow-up imaging.
Of 54 patients that underwent combined ablation and resection, 32 (59.3%) were performed through a minimally invasive approach. Eleven (20.4%) were minor resections, 32 (59.3%) were technically major and 11 (20.4%) were anatomically major resections. Twelve complications occurred (22.2%), among which 2 (3.8%) major complications (Clavien-Dindo ≥IIIa). Ninety-day mortality rate was 1.9%. Out of 82 ablated lesions, 6 ASRs (11.1%) occurred. Median blood loss was significantly lower in the minimally invasive group, compared with open [90 mL (32.5 to 200) vs. 200 mL (100 to 400), P=0.005]. Pringle maneuver was significantly performed less in the minimally invasive group [8 (25.0%) vs. 16 (72.7%), P=0.001], but took more time [36.1 min (±15.6) vs. 21.6 (±9.9); P=0.011]. Short-term (1 y) overall and disease-free survival were respectively 81.4% and 50.0%.
Combining microwave ablation and liver resection is a feasible and safe parenchymal-sparing technique, through both minimally invasive and open approach for treating extended CRLM disease. It has a low ablation-related complication rate and acceptable ablation-site recurrence rate.