Electrocautery ablation of anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions: Effectiveness and key factors associated with outcomes

Michael M. Gaisa, Yuxin Liu, Ashish A. Deshmukh, Kimberly L. Stone, Keith M. Sigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Electrocautery ablation (EA) is a common treatment modality for patients with anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSILs), but to the authors' knowledge its effectiveness has been understudied. The objective of the current study was to determine ablation outcomes and to identify clinicopathological factors associated with postablation disease recurrence. Methods: A total of 330 people living with HIV with de novo intra-anal HSIL who were treated with EA from 2009 to 2016 were studied retrospectively. Using long-term, surveillance high-resolution anoscopy biopsy data, treatment failures were classified as local recurrence (HSIL noted at the treated site at the time of surveillance) or overall recurrence (HSIL noted at treated or untreated sites). The associations between these outcomes and clinical factors were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards models. Results: Approximately 88% of participants were men who have sex with men. The median age of study participants was 45.5 years (range, 35-51 years) and approximately 49% had multiple index HSILs (range, 2-6 index HSILs). At a median of 12.2 months postablation (range, 6.3-20.9 months postablation), approximately 45% of participants had developed local recurrence whereas 60% had developed overall recurrence. Current cigarette smoking, HIV viremia (HIV-1 RNA ≥100 copies/mL), and multiple index HSILs were found to be predictive of local recurrence. Overall recurrence was more common in current smokers and those with multiple index lesions. In multivariable models that included human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes, baseline and persistent infections with HPV-16 and/or HPV-18 were found to be significantly associated with both local and overall recurrence. Conclusions: EA is an effective treatment modality for anal HSIL in people living with HIV, but rates of disease recurrence are substantial. Multiple index HSILs, HIV viremia, current cigarette smoking, and both baseline and persistent infection with HPV-16 and/or HPV-18 appear to negatively impact treatment success. Ongoing surveillance is imperative to capture recurrence early and improve long-term treatment outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1470-1479
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • HIV
  • anal cancer precursors
  • electrocautery ablation
  • high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL)
  • outcomes
  • recurrence


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