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Radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors: quantitative assessment of tumor coverage through CT image processing

Katia Passera1, Sabrina Selvaggi2, Davide Scaramuzza3, Francesco Garbagnati3, Daniele Vergnaghi3 and Luca Mainardi2*

Author Affiliations

1 Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri” – IRCCS, Bergamo, Italy

2 Dipartimento di Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy

3 Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milano, Italy

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BMC Medical Imaging 2013, 13:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2342-13-3

Published: 16 January 2013



Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is one of the most promising non-surgical treatments for hepatic tumors. The assessment of the therapeutic efficacy of RFA is usually obtained by visual comparison of pre- and post-treatment CT images, but no numerical quantification is performed.


In this work, a novel method aiming at providing a more objective tool for the evaluation of RFA coverage is described. Image registration and segmentation techniques were applied to enable the visualization of the tumor and the corresponding post-RFA necrosis in the same framework. In addition, a set of numerical indexes describing tumor/necrosis overlap and their mutual position were computed.


After validation of segmentation step, the method was applied on a dataset composed by 10 tumors, suspected not to be completed treated. Numerical indexes showed that only two tumors were totally treated and the percentage of a residual tumor was in the range of 5.12%-35.92%.


This work represents a first attempt to obtain a quantitative tool aimed to assess the accuracy of RFA treatment. The possibility to visualize the tumor and the correspondent post-RFA necrosis in the same framework and the definition of some synthetic numerical indexes could help clinicians in ameliorating RFA treatment.