• Laser-induced thermal therapy (LITT);
  • recurrent head and neck cancer;
  • malignant cervical adenopathy;
  • squamous cell carcinoma;
  • palliation


Objectives: Laser-induced thermal therapy (LITT) for cancer is a technique whereby a source of energy (laser, radiofrequency, ultrasonic, cryoenergy, and so on) is directly applied into a tumor at various depths. Recent studies have demonstrated the efficiency of ultrasound (UTZ) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for real- or “near” real-time tumor and vessel identification as well as monitoring and quantifying energy-induced tissue damage. The objective of this study is to report UCLA's experience using UTZ monitoring of Nd:YAG laser thermal ablation of malignant cervical adenopathy in a phase II study.

Study Design: The authors conducted a retrospective study of patients treated at a tertiary medical center.

Methods: Forty-seven patients with a total of 55 neck tumors were treated on an outpatient basis in the operating room using UTZ for image-guided laser interstitial thermal therapy. Laser energy was delivered through an SLT Nd:YAG laser powered at 30 W (power density: 2,200 J/cm2).

Results: Eleven patients had a complete response ranging from 5.5 to 90 months (mean, 22.1 months). Based on the findings of this study, it was possible to show that proximity to the carotid artery was the most relevant factor in projecting patient survival. Patients' individual treatment analysis and final outcome are further discussed.

Conclusions: LITT ablation of malignant cervical adenopathy was considered safe and feasible. No intraoperative complications occurred. Further development of this technique applying laser energy delivery to mathematical imaging models should lead to more effective tumor palliation as an alternative to surgery.