Original Article
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World J Gastrointest Endosc. Jan 16, 2014; 6(1): 13-19
Published online Jan 16, 2014. doi: 10.4253/wjge.v6.i1.13
Intraductal endoscopic radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of hilar non-resectable malignant bile duct obstruction
Andrea Oliver Tal, Johannes Vermehren, Mireen Friedrich-Rust, Jörg Bojunga, Christoph Sarrazin, Stefan Zeuzem, Jörg Trojan, Jörg Gerhard Albert
Andrea Oliver Tal, Johannes Vermehren, Mireen Friedrich-Rust, Jörg Bojunga, Christoph Sarrazin, Stefan Zeuzem, Jörg Trojan, Jörg Gerhard Albert, Medizinische Klinik 1, Universitätsklinikum Frankfurt, 60590 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Author contributions: Tal AO and Albert JG designed and performed the research; Friedrich-Rust M, Bojunga J, Sarrazin C, Trojan J and Albert JG performed the interventions and obtained clinical data; Tal AO, Vermehren J, Zeuzem S and Albert JG analyzed the data and wrote the paper.
Correspondence to: Jörg Gerhard Albert, MD, Medizinische Klinik 1, Universitätsklinikum Frankfurt, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, 60590 Frankfurt am Main, Germany. j.albert@med.uni-frankfurt.de
Telephone: +49-69-63015297 Fax: +49-69-63016247
Received: September 4, 2013
Revised: November 11, 2013
Accepted: December 9, 2013
Published online: January 16, 2014

AIM: To evaluate the safety and technical success of endoscopic radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for palliative treatment of malignant hilar bile duct obstruction.

METHODS: In this study, a recently CE and FDA-approved endoscopic RFA catheter was first tested in an ex vivo pig liver model to study the effect of electrosurgical variables on the extent of the area of induced necrosis. Subsequently, a retrospective analysis was conducted of all patients treated with endoscopic RFA for malignant biliary obstruction at our center between February 2012 and April 2013. All patients received an additional plastic stent implantation into the biliary tree following RFA.

RESULTS: In the pig model, ablation time of 60-90 seconds using the bipolar soft coagulation mode at 8-10 watts with an effect of 8 was found to be the most feasible setting. Twelve patients (5 females, 7 males; mean age, 70 years) underwent 19 endoscopic RFA (range, 1-5) sessions. Deployment of RFA was successful in all patients. Systemic chemotherapy was administered in four patients. We observed biliary bleeding 4-6 wk after the intervention in three cases and two of these patients died: in one patient, spontaneous hemobilia occurred, whereas bleeding started during stent extraction in the other. In the third patient, bleeding was stopped by insertion of a non-covered self-expanding metal stent. Another three patients developed cholangitis during follow-up. Seven patients died during follow-up and median survival was 6.4 mo (95%CI: 0.05-12.7) from the time of the first RFA.

CONCLUSION: Endoscopic RFA is an easy to perform and technically highly successful procedure. However, hemobilia possibly associated with RFA occurred in three of our patients. Therefore, larger prospective studies are needed to further evaluate the safety and efficacy of this promising new method.

Keywords: Radiofrequency ablation, Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopy, Cholangiography, Bile duct cancer, Cholangiocarcinoma

Core tip: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a promising tool for the treatment of patients with perihilar and intrahepatic bile duct cancer. While RFA is easy to perform and technical success rates are high, the outcome of patients remains unclear. Therefore, the long-term efficacy of this treatment approach needs to be studied in randomized trials.