Non-surgical ablative therapies for inoperable benign insulinoma

C. Mele, A. Brunani, B. Damascelli, V. Tichà, L. Castello, G. Aimaretti, M. Scacchi, P. Marzullo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Benign insulinoma is the most common functioning neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas. The gold-standard therapeutic approach for insulinoma is surgery, which allows for tumor removal, histology and immunochemical analyses. If surgery is not feasible, minimally invasive ablative procedures performed by interventional radiology can lead to partial or complete remission of hormone hypersecretion and tumor control in insulinoma patients. Methods: We performed a review of existing literature on non-chemotherapeutic/radioactive ablative techniques employed for the treatment of benign, otherwise inoperable, pancreatic insulinoma. For this purpose, feasibility, effectiveness and safety of ablative treatments for pancreatic insulinoma were reviewed from literature data published from 1982 to date. Results: A total of 44 insulinoma cases treated with non-surgical ablative techniques were desumed, and divided as follows: 7 cases of tumor embolization, 26 ethanol ablations, 7 radiofrequency ablations, 2 high intensity focused ultrasound ablation, 1 irreversible electroporation and 1 percutaneous microwave ablation. Most cases involved single insulinoma, predominantly located in the pancreas head and body. In the majority of patients, ablation was chosen instead of surgery due to severe comorbidities. After an average follow-up of 16 months, the overall success rate of non-surgical ablative treatments of insulinoma was 84%, the recurrence/persistence rate was 16%, and transient adverse events were noted in 23% of cases. Adverse events were usually self-limiting and medically manageable. Conclusions: Non-surgical ablation is a feasible, safe and repeatable procedure in patients with pancreatic insulinoma, who are not candidate to surgery or refuse it. Partial or complete control of symptoms and tumor growth is experienced by the majority of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Ablation
  • Electroporation
  • Embolization
  • Ethanol
  • Insulinoma
  • Microwave
  • Radiofrequency
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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