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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2018

Intra-arterial ethanol embolization augments response to TACE for treatment of HCC with portal venous tumor thrombus

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2018
Biao Yang, Chun-Lin Li, Wen-hao Guo, Tian-qiang Qin, He Jiao, Ze-jun Fei, Xuan Zhou, Lin-jia Duan, Zheng-yin Liao



The prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma with portal vein tumor thrombus remains extremely poor. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the technical feasibility, effectiveness and safety of transcatheter chemoembolization for tumors in the liver parenchyma plus intra-arterial ethanol embolization for portal vein tumor thrombus.


A pilot study was carried out on 31 patients in the treatment group (transcatheter chemoembolization plus intra-arterial ethanol embolization) and 57 patients in the control group (transcatheter chemoembolization alone). Enhanced computed tomography/magnetic resonance images were repeated 4 weeks after the procedure to assess the response. Overall survival and complications were assessed until the patient died or was lost to follow-up.


Median survival was 10.5 months in the treatment group (2.4 ± 1.7 courses) and 3.9 months in the control group (1.9 ± 1 courses) (P = 0.001). Patients in the treatment group had better overall survival (at 3, 6 and 12 months, respectively), compared to patients in the control group (90.3% vs. 59.6%, 64.5% vs. 29.8%, and 41.9% vs. 10.6%; p = 0.001). Furthermore, the rate of portal vein tumor thrombus regression was higher in the treatment group (93.1%) than in the control group (32.1%) (P < 0.001).


Based on the results of this study, transcatheter chemoembolization combined with intra-arterial ethanol embolization may be more effective than transcatheter chemoembolization alone for treating hepatocellular carcinoma with portal vein tumor thrombus. Intra-arterial ethanol embolization for treating portal vein tumor thrombus is safe, feasible and prolongs overall survival.
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