Morbidity and mortality following transarterial liver chemoembolization in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and synthetic hepatic dysfunction


  • This article was presented in part at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in San Francisco, CA.

  • This study was financially supported by a seed grant from the University of California San Francisco Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

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The purpose of this study was to determine the rate and risk factors for the development of irreversible hepatotoxicity after transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and synthetic hepatic dysfunction. Two hundred fifty-one consecutive patients with HCC and hepatic dysfunction who underwent 443 TACE procedures from 2005 to 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. The included patients met one of the following criteria: a pre-TACE bilirubin level ≥ 2 mg/dL, an international normalized ratio (INR) > 1.5, a creatinine level > 1.2 mg/dL, a platelet count ≤ 60,000/mL, a Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score > 15, Child-Turcotte-Pugh class B or C, ascites, or portal vein thrombosis. Hepatotoxicity was defined as new or worsening ascites, encephalopathy, or grade 3 or 4 toxicity (bilirubin, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, creatinine, or INR) according to the National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events. The rate and risk factors for death or urgent liver transplantation within 6 weeks of TACE and irreversible hepatotoxicity were determined with a generalized estimating equation analysis. Reversible hepatotoxicity developed after 90 procedures (20%) in 78 patients (31%). Irreversible hepatotoxicity developed after 41 procedures (9%) in 37 patients (15%). Six patients (2%) underwent urgent liver transplantation, and 11 (4%) died within 6 weeks of TACE. Patients at increased risk for procedure-related mortality or urgent liver transplantation within 6 weeks of TACE had a baseline serum bilirubin level ≥ 4.0 mg/dL (P = 0.01), an elevated INR (P < 0.001), hypoalbuminemia with an albumin level < 2.0 g/L (P = 0.01), a serum creatinine level > 2.0 mg/dL (P = 0.02), large ascites (P = 0.002), encephalopathy (P = 0.005), or a MELD score ≥ 20 (P < 0.001). In conclusion, TACE can be performed safely in patients with baseline hepatic dysfunction. However, a poor hepatic reserve increases the risk of irreversible hepatotoxicity, which may lead to death or the need for urgent liver transplantation. Liver Transpl 19:164–173, 2013. © 2012 AASLD.