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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2005 Dec;16(12):1653-9.

Safety and efficacy of transarterial chemoembolization in patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma and portal vein thrombosis.

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Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 North Wolfe Street, Blalock 545, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.



Despite the absence of conclusive data, portal vein (PV) thrombosis is considered a contraindication to transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) in patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The purpose of our study was to establish the safety of TACE in such patients and identify key prognostic factors and survival.


Data were prospectively collected from 32 consecutive patients with unresectable HCC and PV thrombosis who underwent treatment with TACE. History and physical examination, relevant laboratory values, and contrast material-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained before each TACE procedure. Repeated TACE was performed every 6 weeks unless patients developed a contraindication or MR imaging showed complete response.


Median overall survival was 9.5 months (range, 3-50 months). Child-Pugh numerical disease stage was the prognostic factor most strongly related to survival. The 30-day mortality rate was zero and there was no evidence of TACE-related hepatic infarction or acute liver failure. The 6-, 9-, 12-, and 18-month survival rates were 60%, 47%, 25%, and 12.5%, respectively.


PV thrombosis should not be considered a contraindication to TACE. Compared with historical control subjects who received traditional forms of treatment, the patients in the present study had extended survival. However, prospective randomized trials are necessary to show this conclusively and to show which subgroups benefit.

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