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HPB (Oxford). 2002;4(1):21-8. doi: 10.1080/136518202753598690.

Preoperative portal vein embolisation for primary and metastatic liver tumours: volume effects, efficacy, complications and short-term outcome.

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HPB Surgery Unit and Department of Radiology, Freeman Hospital, High Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7DN, UK.



The aim of portal vein embolisation is to induce hyperplasia of normal tissue when resection of a cancerous portion of the liver is contraindicated only by the volume of liver that would remain following operation.


Eight patients with inoperable liver tumours (3 women and 5 men, median age 69.5 years, 3 colorectal hepatic metastasts, 2 choloangiocarcinomas and 3 hepatocellular cancers) were selected for portal vein embolisation. Selected portal branches were occluded with microparticles and coils. Liver volumes were determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before embolisation and again before operation.


Embolisation was successfully performed in all 8 patients, 7 by the percutaneous-transhepatic route, while one patient required open cannulation of a mesenteric vein. Management was altered in 6 patients who proceded to 'curative' resection; projected remaining liver volumes increased (Wilcoxon's matched pairs test p=0.02) from a median of 361 cc to a median of 550 cc; two patients had disease progression such that operation was no longer indicated. In one patient a misplaced coil unintentionally occluded a portal branch to normal liver.


Portal vein embolisation produced appreciable hyperplasia of the normal liver and extended the option of 'curative' operation to 6 out of the 8 cases attempted. Complications can occur. The long-term results following operation are unknown.

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