Chemoembolization in patients at high risk: Results and complications

James M. Kiely, William S. Rilling, John G. Touzios, Robert A. Hieb, Jose Franco, Kia Saeian, Edward J. Quebbeman, Henry A. Pitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) has become a standard treatment option for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and is often used to palliate hepatic metastases. Many patients who are candidates for TACE present with poor hepatic reserve, advanced tumor stage with major portal vein (PV) invasion or thrombosis, and/or biliary dilation. These factors have been associated with a poor prognosis and increased complications after chemoembolization. Accordingly, these patients are classified as being at high risk and may not be considered for therapy. The aim of this study is to evaluate the results of TACE in these patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Over a period of 5 years, 141 patients underwent 355 TACE procedures. Thirty-six patients (26%) were in the high-risk group as a result of major PV thrombosis, increased serum bilirubin level (>2 mg/dL), and/or intrahepatic biliary dilation. HCC was the underlying tumor in 60% of patients. Thirty-seven percent of patients had Child-Pugh class B/C disease. Patients in the high-risk group received more selective embolization with fewer particles and fewer procedures (2.0 vs 2.7; P < .04). RESULTS: Patients in the high-risk group were more likely to have HCC (83% vs 51%; P < .01) and were also more likely to have advanced disease according to Child-Pugh classification versus patients in the low-risk group (49% vs 20%; P < .01). The overall complication rate was 4.3%, with no significant difference in complication rate between groups (3.2% vs 8.2%; P = .12). The overall 30-day mortality rate was 2.3%, and no significant difference in 30-day mortality rate was observed between the high- and low-risk groups (5.5% vs 1.4%; P = .11). A trend toward increased survival in the low-risk group did not reach statistical significance. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that patients with advanced disease and decreased hepatic reserve who are treated with TACE exhibit no significant increase in morbidity or mortality and no significant decrease in survival. With variations in technique, TACE can be performed safely in patients with the relative risk factors that may classify them in high-risk groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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