Software-assisted post-interventional assessment of radiofrequency ablation
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is becoming a standard procedure for minimally invasive tumor treatment in clinical practice. Due to its common technical procedure, low complication rate, and low cost, RFA has become an alternative to surgical resection in the liver. To evaluate the therapy success of RFA, thorough follow-up imaging is essential. Conventionally, shape, size, and position of tumor and coagulation are visually compared in a side-by-side manner using pre- and post-interventional images. To objectify the verification of the treatment success, a novel software assistant allowing for fast and accurate comparison of tumor and coagulation is proposed. In this work, the clinical value of the proposed assessment software is evaluated. In a retrospective clinical study, 39 cases of hepatic tumor ablation are evaluated using the prototype software and conventional image comparison by four radiologists with different levels of experience. The cases are randomized and evaluated in two sessions to avoid any recall-bias. Self-confidence of correct diagnosis (local recurrence vs. no local recurrence) on a six-point scale is given for each case by the radiologists. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values as well as receiver operating curves are calculated for both methods. It is shown that the software-assisted method allows physicians to correctly identify local tumor recurrence with a higher percentage than the conventional method (sensitivity: 0.6 vs. 0.35), whereas the percentage of correctly identified successful ablations is slightly reduced (specificity: 0.83 vs. 0.89).