Majority of patients suffering from liver tumors are not candidates for surgery. Currently, minimal invasive techniques have become available for local destruction of hepatic tumors. Radiofrequency ablation is based on biological response to tissue hyperthermia. The aim of this article is to review available biological data on tissue destruction mechanisms. Experimental evidence shows that tissue injury following thermal ablation occurs in two distinct phases. The initial phase is direct injury, which is determined by energy applied, tumor biology, and tumor microenvironment. The temperature varies along the ablation zone and this is reflected by different morphological changes in affected tissues. The local hyperthermia alters metabolism, exacerbates tissue hypoxia, and increases thermosensitivity. The second phase – indirect injury – is observed after the cessation of heat stimulus. This phase represents a balance of several promoting and inhibiting mechanisms, such as induction of apoptosis, heat shock proteins, Kupffer cell activation, stimulation of the immune response, release of cytokines, and ischemia-reperfusion injury. A deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms may possibly lead to refinements in radiofrequency ablation technology, resulting in advanced local tumor control and prolonged overall survival.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited