Preoperative radiofrequency ablation in painful osteolytic long bone metastases

Published online: Aug 27 2012

Alexander DI FRANCESCO, Stefano FLAMINI, Luigi ZUGARO, Carmine ZOCCALI

From San Salvatore Hospital, L'Aquila, Italy


This study aimed to determine whether Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) followed by prophylactic internal fixation produces better palliation in terms of pain and reduces the need for blood transfusion more than radiotherapy and surgical stabilization (RT-SS). Patients with solitary long bone metastases and a pain score of 5 or more on the VAS scale were selected. Fifteen patients were treated with RFA and surgical stabilization (RFA-SS) and were compared with a matched group (15 subjects) treated by radiotherapy and surgical stabilization (RT-SS). A complete response in terms of pain relief at 12 weeks was documented in 20% (3/15) and 53.3% (8/15) of the subjects treated by RT-SS or RFA-SS, respectively (p = 0.027). The overall response rate at 12 weeks was 93.3% (14 patients) in the group treated by RFA-SS and 59.9% (9 patients) in the group treated by RT-SS (p = 0.048). Although recurrent pain was documented more frequently after RT-SS (26.6%) than after RFA-SS (6.7%) the difference did not reach statistical significance. The morbidity related to RT-SS did not significantly differ when the treatment was associated with RFA. We observed a reduction in blood transfusion, as 3 patients in the RT-SS group required a blood transfusion, versus none in the RFA-SS group. Our results suggest that RFA-SS is safe and is more effective than RT-SS ; furthermore, RFA may become an option for patients with metastases of the long bones to prevent tumour dissemination and reduce intraoperative blood loss. The findings described here should serve as a framework around which to design future clinical trials.