In patients with malignant biliary strictures, radiofrequency ablation may improve stent patency and prolong survival, according to results of a recent meta-analysis.
Radiofrequency ablation was also safe and well tolerated. The report appears in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (2017. doi:).
Although the data to date are limited and mostly observational, radiofrequency ablation “may be a promising adjuvant therapy in patients with malignant biliary obstruction who otherwise have dismal outcomes with current standard of therapy,” wrote Aijaz Ahmed Sofi, MD, of the department of gastroenterology, Arizona Center for Digestive Health, Gilbert, and coauthors.
Use of radiofrequency ablation is thought to improve the patency of biliary stents placed as a palliative measure in patients with unresectable malignant biliary strictures. However, several studies evaluating this and other endpoints have produced “variable results,” the authors said in the report.
In a comprehensive literature search, Dr. Sofi and colleagues identified nine studies including 505 patients. Only one of the studies was randomized and controlled, and results from it were preliminary, they noted.
Combined results showed a 50.6-day pooled weighted mean difference in stent patency (95% confidence interval, 32.83-68.48) in favor of radiofrequency ablation, according to reported data. In addition, there was a significant difference in survival favoring use of radiofrequency ablation (hazard ratio, 1.395; 95% confidence interval, 1.145-1.7; P less than .001).
While there was no difference between groups in risk of cholangitis, pancreatitis, hemobilia, and acute cholecystitis, abdominal pain after the procedure was more frequent in the radiofrequency ablation group (31% vs. 20%, P = .003).
This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating radiofrequency ablation as an adjuvant therapy in patients who receive biliary stents for malignant biliary obstruction, according to the investigators.
Despite the findings, Dr. Sofi and colleagues were careful to emphasize the limitations of the analysis, writing that it provides “very low quality evidence” in favor of radiofrequency ablation therapy for management of malignant biliary strictures.
“The results of currently ongoing controlled studies examining the role of RFA [radiofrequency ablation] in malignant biliary obstruction are keenly awaited,” they wrote.
Dr. Sofi and colleagues reported no potential conflicts of interest associated with the study.