Stereotactic microwave ablation could be a safe and efficient option for the treatment of both primary and recurrent intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, according to researchers from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is a type of aggressive cancer that originates in the bile ducts within the liver. The incidence and mortality of the disease are increasing worldwide and the only treatment option is the resection of the primary tumor. However, the disease is often diagnosed late and has metastasized before it is detected.

Little data is available about the efficiency of microwave ablation of small primary tumors or metastases of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.

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Here, researchers conducted a literature review about intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma ablation. Their review identified 11 papers on microwave ablation of the disease. The papers reported that the approach might be a safe and effective treatment option for patients with tumors measuring 5 cm or smaller and who are not candidates for surgery. However, none of the papers included data on the use of stereotactic microwave ablation.

The authors reported that the analyses of their own data of 10 patients treated with stereotactic microwave ablation for primary or recurrent intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma showed that the approach is safe and efficient and leads to short hospital stays and low complication rates.

Larger studies with longer follow-up are needed to confirm the benefits of the approach, according to Corina Kim-Fuchs, MD, PhD, and the co-authors of the article that was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

If its safety and benefits are confirmed, stereotactic microwave ablation could be a minimally invasive and tissue-sparing therapeutic option for patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.

Microwave ablation is the use of electromagnetic microwaves of at least 900 MHz to destroy tumors. The electromagnetic microwaves agitate water molecules in the surrounding tissue and thus produce friction and heat. This induces cell death by coagulation necrosis.


Kim-Fuchs C, Candinas D, Lachenmayer A. The role of conventional and stereotactic microwave ablation for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. J Clin Med. 2021;10(13):2963. doi:10.3390/jcm10132963

Simon CJ, Dupuy DE, Mayo-Smith WW. Microwave ablation: principles and applications. Radiographics. 2005;25 Suppl 1:S69-83. doi:10.1148/rg.25si055501