Complications of image-guided transcatheter hepatic chemoembolization of primary and secondary tumours of the liver

Guido Poggi, Emma Pozzi, Alberto Riccardi, Stefano Tonini, Benedetta Montagna, Pietro Quaretti, Barbara Tagliaferri, Federico Sottotetti, Paola Baiardi, Chiara Pagella, Claudio Minoia, Giovanni Bernardo

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Background: Image-guided transcatheter hepatic chemoembolization (TACE) is accepted worldwide as an effective treatment for patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and for adequate preservation of liver function. Although considered relatively safe, TACE has been associated with several complications. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of the complications associated with TACE therapy and to correlate it with certain risk factors, either well-known or not yet evaluated. Patients and Methods: A total of 330 chemoembolization procedures performed in 170 patients (117 males and 53 females) over a period of 64 months were retrospectively analysed. Among the patients, 123 had hepatocellular carcinoma, 10 had intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and 37 had hepatic metastases. The variables considered were: tumour histotype, bilioenteric anastomosis, previous or combined treatment with radiofrequency thermal ablation, antibiotic prophylaxis, chemotherapeutic agents, use of new drug-eluting microspheres, comorbidities such as diabetes, patient age and the presence of vascular anatomical variations. Results: A total of 30 complications occurred in 27 procedures. The total complication rate per procedure was 9.1% and approximately 75% of patients had postembolization syndrome. The difference in the prevalence of complications was statistically significant in the group of diabetic patients (13.3%) compared to the remaining patients (6.3%) (p=0.002) and in patients with biliary stents (25%) compared to those without stents (7.75%) (p=0.027). Conclusion: These data show that diabetes mellitus and the presence of bilioenteric anastomosis are risk factors for developing complications after TACE. The use of new drugeluting microspheres did not increase the risk of complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5159-5164
Number of pages6
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Arteries
  • Hepatic chemoembolization
  • Liver interventional procedures
  • Liver neoplasm therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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