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Pediatr Radiol. 2000 Nov;30(11):779-85.

Intrahepatic chemoembolization in unresectable pediatric liver malignancies.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Children's Hospital at Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



To determine the effectiveness of a new multidisciplinary approach using neoadjuvant intrahepatic chemoembolization (IHCE) and liver transplant (OLTx) in patients with unresectable hepatic tumors who have failed systemic chemotherapy.


From November 1989 to April 1998, 14 children (2-15 years old) were treated with 50 courses of intra-arterial chemotherapy. Baseline and post-treatment contrast-enhanced CT and alpha-fetoprotein levels were performed. Seven had hepatoblastoma, and 7 had hepatocellular carcinoma (1 fibrolamellar variant). All patients had subselective hepatic angiography and infusion of cisplatin and/or adriamycin (36 courses were followed by gelfoam embolization). The procedure was repeated every 3-4 weeks based on hepatic function and patency of the hepatic artery.


Six of 14 children received orthotopic liver transplants (31 courses of IHC). Pretransplant, 3 of 6 showed a significant decrease in alpha-fetoprotein, while only 1 demonstrated a significant further reduction in tumor size). Three of 6 patients are disease free at this time. Three of 6 patients died of metastatic tumor 6, 38, and 58 months, respectively post-transplant. One of 14 is currently undergoing treatment, has demonstrated a positive response, and is awaiting OLTx. Three of 14 withdrew from the program and died. Four of 14 patients developed an increase in tumor size, developed metastatic disease, and were not transplant candidates. Two hepatic arteries thrombosed, and one child had a small sealed-off gastric ulcer as complications of intrahepatic chemoembolization.


The results of intrahepatic chemoembolization are promising and suggest that some children who do not respond to systemic therapy can be eventually cured by a combination of intrahepatic chemoembolization orthotopic liver transplant. Alpha-fetoprotein and cross-sectional imaging appear to be complementary in evaluating tumor response. IHCE does not appear to convert an anatomically unresectable lesion to a candidate for partial hepatectomy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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