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Oncologist. 2012;17(5):725-31. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0372. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Hepatic artery embolization for neuroendocrine tumors: postprocedural management and complications.

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Division of Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.



There is scant evidence to guide the management of patients after hepatic artery embolization (HAE). We examined length of stay (LOS), laboratory patterns, medication usage, morbidity, and mortality of patients hospitalized after HAE for metastatic neuroendocrine tumors.


Data were abstracted retrospectively from electronic medical records on LOS, liver function tests (LFTs), i.v. antibiotics, analgesia, peak temperature, bacteremia, hepatic abscess formation, carcinoid crisis, and metastatic burden on cross-sectional imaging.


In 2005-2009, 72 patients underwent 174 HAEs for carcinoid and islet cell tumors. The median LOS was 4 days (range, 1-8 days). There was no correlation between peak LFTs and tumor burden. Declines in LFTs were not uniform before hospital discharge; 25%, 37%, 30%, 53%, and 67% of patients were discharged before their respective aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and total and direct bilirubin levels began to decline, with no readmissions for acute hepatic failure. The median i.v. analgesia dose was 60 mg oral morphine equivalents (range, 3-1,961 mg). Pre-HAE i.v. antibiotics were administered in 99% of cases; post-HAE fever occurred in 37% of patients, with no documented bacteremia. One patient developed a hepatic abscess after HAE. There were two carcinoid crises. The single in-hospital death was associated with air in the portal veins.


The duration and intensity of in-hospital care following HAE should be managed on an individual basis. A downward trend in LFTs is not required before discharge. Modest use of i.v. analgesia suggests that many patients could exclusively receive oral analgesics. Given the rarity of serious complications, hospital stays could be shortened, thereby reducing costs and nosocomial risks.

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