Aim: Safety and efficacy evidence of drug-eluting-microspheres trans-arterial chemoembolization (DEM-TACE) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and trans-jugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is lacking. The aim of this retrospective study was to report the safety and efficacy of DEM-TACE procedures performed with microspheres smaller than 300 μm in patients with HCC and TIPS in a high-volume transplant center.

Methods: Embolization was standardized by initiating DEM-TACE with microspheres smaller than 100 μm, and if stasis was not achieved, adjunctive embolization with 100-300 or 200 μm microspheres was administered. With regards to efficacy, the oncological response was evaluated and categorized according to mRECIST criteria at 1, 3-6, 9-12, and 15-18 months. Reporting the safety profile, detailed laboratory analysis was performed before, at 36-48 h, and 30-60 days after the procedure. Adverse events (AEs) were recorded; post-embolic syndrome was defined as the onset of fever/nausea/pain after the procedure. Late onset hepatobiliary complications were evaluated by follow-up imaging with computed tomography or magnetic resonance (CT/MR).

Results: From December 2007 to November 2020, 17 HCC patients (25 HCC nodules) with patent TIPS underwent 20 DEM-TACE. Embolization was performed only with microspheres smaller than 100 μm in 3/20 DEM-TACE (15%); adjunctive embolization with 100-300 or 200 μm microspheres was required in 17/20 DEM-TACE (85%). Reported early AEs were post-embolic syndrome (9/20; 45%) all of grade 1-2, late AEs were asymptomatic acute liver bile duct injury (2/20; 10%), and in one case we observed hepatic abscess (1/20; 5%) resulting in death due to sepsis. With regards to efficacy, the oncological response was evaluated and categorized according to mRECIST criteria. Complete response (CR) at 1, 3-6, 9-12, and 15-18 months was 52%, 50%, 50%, and 50%, respectively. Objective response (CR + partial response) at 1, 3-6, 9-12, and 15-18 months was 95%, 71%, 70%, and 50%, respectively.

Conclusion: DEM-TACE with drug-eluting-microspheres smaller than 300 μm can be performed in appropriately selected patients with TIPS.

(Lucatelli, P., et. al., – Hepatoma Research, April 2022)

Read more