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ANZ J Surg. 2014 May;84(5):341-5. doi: 10.1111/ans.12016. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Portal vein embolization prior to major liver resection.

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Upper Gastrointestinal Surgical Unit, Royal North Shore Hospital and North Shore Private Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



Portal vein embolization (PVE) induces compensatory hypertrophy of the future liver remnant volume (FLRV) to improve the safety of major liver surgery by reducing the risk of post-operative liver failure. The aim was to describe our experience of PVE for patients with large or multifocal malignant liver tumours who initially were deemed unresectable.


Perioperative data were retrieved from a prospective database and computed tomographic scans were retrospectively reviewed to calculate volume changes and the degree of liver hypertrophy following PVE.


PVE was successful in 23 out of 25 patients and resulted in a change in the mean estimated FLRV from 585 to 788 mL following PVE. This represented a 35% increase in the remnant liver parenchymal volume post-embolization (P < 0.01). The procedure was well tolerated and did not compromise the surgical resection in any patient. Nineteen patients went on to have a liver resection following PVE with an in-hospital mortality of 16% (3 out of 19) and a 42% morbidity rate. After a mean follow-up of 31 months (1-130 months), 32% (6 out of 19) of patients are alive and 4 of these (21%) are completely disease-free.


PVE results in an increase in the FLRV prior to major hepatectomy. Failure to develop hypertrophy following PVE is a surrogate marker for underlying liver dysfunction. PVE is safe and may increase the pool of patients suitable for liver resection. Long-term survival is similar to those not requiring embolization prior to liver resection.


future liver remnant volume; hepatectomy; liver hypertrophy; liver tumour; portal vein embolization

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