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Evaluation of transcatheter arterial embolization prior to percutaneous tumor ablation in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma: a randomized controlled trial


Masatoshi Akamatsu, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, The University of Tokyo Hospital, 7-3-1, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8655,
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Abstract: Background: Transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) may reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) recurrence when performed before percutaneous tumor ablation (PTA), either percutaneous ethanol injection therapy (PEIT) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA). We conducted a randomized, controlled trial comparing the use of TAE combined with percutaneous ethanol injection therapy (TAE/PEIT) to the use of PEIT only to assess the effects on HCC recurrence and survival. We continued the study after the introduction of RFA and compared TAE combined with RFA (TAE/RFA) with RFA only.

Methods: Between March 1997 and April 2001, 42 HCC patients were enrolled who satisfied the following inclusion criteria: (1) uninodular HCC as determined by angiography under computed tomography, (2) arterial hypervascularity, and (3) no prior history of HCC treatment. Twenty-two patients were treated with TAE/PTA (PEIT, 12; RFA, 10) and 20 patients with PTA only (PEIT, 14; RFA, 6).

Results: There were four cases of local recurrence in the PTA-only group and none in the TAE/PTA group (P=0.043). The four patients with local recurrence were treated with PEIT. None of the patients treated with RFA showed local recurrence. The effect of TAE on overall recurrence was not significant (P=0.4179). In the multivariate analysis, prior TAE was not significant for survival (P=0.514).

Conclusions: TAE has a limited use in suppressing local recurrence when performed before PEIT but not before RFA.