BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) with or without prior endoscopic resection safely and effectively removes early neoplasia in Barrett's esophagus. We speculated that this approach might also be suited for early squamous neoplasia of the esophagus. The aim of the study was to assess our initial experiences with RFA for high grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGIN) and esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC) limited to the mucosa.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: This was a prospective case series study in two tertiary centers. Patients with at least one unstained lesion (USL) of the esophagus using Lugol's chromoendoscopy and squamous HGIN/ESCC upon biopsy were included. In the case of nonflat USLs, endoscopic resection was performed for staging and to render the mucosa flat. After endoscopic resection and subsequent circumferential RFA, chromoendoscopy was repeated every 3 months with focal RFA of residual USLs. Follow-up chromoendoscopy was repeated at 6 months and annually thereafter. The main outcome measure was complete histological response for any squamous intraepithelial neoplasia or ESCC.
RESULTS: A total of 13 patients (10 HGIN, three ESCC) were included. Following endoscopic resection in nine patients, the median extent of USLs was 4 cm and 50 % of circumference. All 13 patients achieved a complete response after a median of 2 RFA sessions (IQR 1 - 3 sessions). RFA-related complications included two mucosal lacerations (at the endoscopic resection scar) and one intramural hematoma, none requiring therapy. Endoscopic resection-/RFA-related complications were three stenoses. Dilation resulted in perforation in one patient (managed with a covered stent). There were no recurrences (median follow-up 17 months [IQR 11 - 22 months]).
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that RFA with or without prior endoscopic resection for esophageal squamous HGIN and mucosal ESCC is feasible and effective.