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Tumori. 2003 May-Jun;89(3):285-7.

Liver damage after transarterial chemoembolization without embolizing agent in unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Surgical Sciences, Organs Transplantation and Advanced Technologies, University of Catania, Italy.



Transarterial chemoembolization represents a therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma, but in cirrhotic patients affected by large or multifocal HCC with poor hepatic functional reserve, the procedure can damage normal parenchyma. We analyzed the effects on hepatic function of a modified chemoembolization consisting of ethiodized oil (Lipiodol Ultra Fluid) and epirubicin without gelatine sponge (C-LIP).


Of 90 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma observed from January 1995 to December 1999, 16 with a diagnosis of advanced (large or multifocal) disease underwent 19 C-LIP. The 30th post-C-LIP day was considered as a checkpoint of the biochemical parameters for a possible hepatic failure. The value of alpha-fetoprotein and the clinical finding of ascites were also considered after 30 days.


Postoperative values of serum aspartate aminotrasferases, as well as alanine aminotransferase, were significantly higher than preoperative values (P = 0.002 and P = 0.019, respectively) (Table 1). In all patients, there was a significant increase in postoperative total serum bilirubin (P = 0.003). Statistical analysis showed a significant finding of postoperative ascites (P = 0.035) and the effectiveness of C-LIP on neoplastic tissue by a decrease of alpha-fetoprotein values at 30 days (P = 0.067).


Transcatether arterial chemoembolization could represent an effective therapy against multifocal or advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, and its effectiveness is probably not decreased by using a modified procedure without embolizing agent (C-LIP). However, even when performing such a safe procedure, the hepatic functional reserve of the individual patient needs to be accurately evaluated in order to avoid liver failure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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