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Semin Intervent Radiol. 2010 Jun;27(2):111-23. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1253510.

Embolization of musculoskeletal bone tumors.

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  • 1Assistant Professor of Radiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Bone tumors may present as incidental findings, with pain or loss of function, or as fractures. There is a broad range of indications for transarterial embolization (TAE) in primary or metastatic bone tumors: to reduce operative hemorrhagic risks, to simplify or allow more definitive surgery, or in the context of pain palliation, fever, bleeding, or hypercalcemic and other rheological factors. Embolization may also increase tumor sensitivity to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The procedure itself is often complex with significant risk to adjacent structures and is usually part of a wider treatment strategy. There are many options of embolic agent, techniques, and end points but all aim to devascularize the tumor. Catheter angiography at the time of TAE is used to determine the correct embolic agent and technique with care taken to isolate at risk structures. Many factors determine the best choice of embolic material, probably the most important of which is operator experience. In life-threatening situations or in preoperative embolizations of metastatic tumors, many operators opt for a combination of particulate emboli and stainless steel or platinum coils. Agents discussed include polyvinyl alcohol particles, trisacryl microspheres, gelatin sponge, liquid embolic agents, and embolization coils. Tumor types treated include vascular metastatic lesions, commonly renal cell or thyroid, particularly in locations prone to fracture; giant cell tumors; aneurysmal bone cysts; vertebral hemangiomas, osteosarcomas; arteriovenous malformations; and osteoblastomas. TAE should be considered in the treatment algorithm of primary or secondary bone tumors. Specific benefit is present where there is a high risk of bleeding at surgery, where there is spinal involvement and neural encroachment, where active bleeding is present or in awkward surgical locations where prolonged surgery is anticipated.


Embolization; bone tumors; metastases

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