Send to

Choose Destination
HPB (Oxford). 2009 Nov;11(7):541-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-2574.2009.00071.x.

Drug-eluting bead therapy in primary and metastatic disease of the liver.

Author information

Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, University of Louisville School of Medicine Louisville, KY, USA.



Drug-eluting bead transarterial chemoembolization (DEB-TACE) is a novel therapy for the treatment of hypervascuarized tumours. Through the intra-arterial delivery of microspheres, DEB-TACE allows for embolization as well as local release of chemotherapy in the treatment of hepatic malignancy, providing an alternative therapeutic option in unresectable tumours. Its role as an adjunct to surgical resection or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is less clear. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent studies investigating DEB-TACE in order to better define safety, efficacy and outcomes associated with its use.


A systematic review of all published articles and trials identified nine clinical trials and 23 abstracts. These were reviewed for tumour histology, stage of treatment, delivery technique, outcome at follow-up, complications and mortality rates.


Publications involved treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), metastatic colorectal carcinoma (MCRC), metastatic neuroendocrine (MNE) disease and cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). Using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours (RECIST) or European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) criteria, studies treating HCC reported complete response (CR) rates of 5% (5/101) at 1 month, 9% (8/91) at 4 months, 14% (19/138) at 6 months and 25% (2/8) at 10 months. Partial response (PR) was reported as 58% (76/131) at 1 month, 50% (67/119) at 4 months, 57% (62/108) at 6-7 months and 63% (5/8) at 10 months. Studies involving MCRC, CCA and MNE disease were less valuable in terms of response rate because there is a lack of comparative data. The most common procedure-associated complications included fever (46-72%), nausea and vomiting (42-47%), abdominal pain (44-80%) and liver abscess (2-3%). Rather than reporting individual symptoms, two studies reported rates of post-embolic syndrome (PES), consisting of fever, abdominal pain, and nausea and vomiting, at 82% (75/91). Six of eight studies reported length of hospital stay, which averaged 2.3 days per procedure. Mortality was reported as occurring in 10 of 456 (2%) procedures, or 10 of 214 (5%) patients.


Drug-eluting bead TACE is becoming more widely utilized in primary and liver-dominant metastatic disease of the liver. Outcomes of success must be expanded beyond response rates because these are not a reliable surrogate for progression-free survival or overall survival. Ongoing clinical trials will further clarify the optimal timing and strategy of this technology.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center