An image fusion system for estimating the therapeutic effects of radiofrequency ablation on hepatocellular carcinoma
Background. During ultrasound-guided radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), high echoic areas due to RFA-induced microbubbles can help calculate the extent of ablation. However, these areas also decrease visualization of target tumors, making it difficult to assess whether they completely cover the tumors. To estimate the effects of RFA more precisely, we used an image fusion system (IFS).
Patients and methods. We enrolled patients with a single HCC who received RFA with or without the IFS. In the IFS group, we drew a spherical marker along the contour of a target tumor on reference images immediately after administering RFA so that the synchronized spherical marker represented the contour of the target tumor on real-time ultrasound images. When the high echoic area completely covered the marker, we considered the ablation to be complete. We compared outcomes between the IFS and control groups.
Results. We enrolled 25 patients and 20 controls, and the baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups. The complete ablation rates during the first RFA session were significantly higher in the IFS group compared with those in the control group (88.0% vs. 60.0%, P = 0.041). The number of RFA sessions was significantly smaller in the IFS group compared with that in the control group (1.1 ± 0.3 vs. 1.5 ± 0.7, P = 0.016).
Conclusions. Our study suggested that the IFS enables a more precise estimation of the effects of RFA on HCC, contributing to enhanced treatment efficacy and minimized patient burden.