Portal Vein Embolization before Extended Hepatectomy for Biliary Cancer: Current Technique and Review of 494 Consecutive Embolizations

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Portal vein embolization (PVE) has been widely applied before extended hepatectomy; however, its clinical utility for patients with biliary cancer has not been fully addressed.


Between 1991 and 2010, 494 patients with cholangiocarcinoma (n = 353) or gallbladder cancer (n = 141) underwent PVE before extended hepatectomy. PVE was performed by a transhepatic ipsilateral approach using fibrin glue or absolute ethanol with steel coils. Surgical outcomes of this cohort were retrospectively reviewed.


PVE-related complications requiring interventions were found in 3 (0.6%) of the 494 patients; no patient died of these complications. Among the 494 patients, 122 (24.7%) did not undergo subsequent hepatectomy. The unresectability rate was significantly higher in patients with gallbladder cancer than in those with cholangiocarcinoma [43.2% (61/141) and 17.3% (61/353), respectively, p < 0.001]. The remaining 372 patients underwent hepatectomy, and 24 (6.5%) died of postoperative complications [13 of 80 (16.3%) with gallbladder cancer vs. 11 of 292 (3.8%) with cholangiocarcinoma, p < 0.05]. The overall survival for patients with cholangiocarcinoma was significantly better than that for patients with gallbladder cancer, where the 5-year survival rate was 39 and 23%, respectively (p < 0.001). Thirty-six patients with cholangiocarcinoma and 10 patients with gallbladder cancer survived more than 5 years after extended surgery.


PVE can be performed safely in patients with cholestatic liver, and it has a potential benefit for patients with advanced biliary cancer who are to undergo extended, difficult hepatectomy.


Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel

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