Portal vein embolization (PVE) is increasingly performed worldwide to reduce the possibility of liver failure after extended hepatectomy, by inducing future liver remnant (FLR) hypertrophy and atrophy of the liver planned for resection. The procedure is known to be very safe and to have few procedure-related complications.
In this study, we described 2 elderly patients with Bismuth–Corlette type IV Klatskin tumor who underwent right trisectional PVE involving the embolization of the right portal vein, the left medial sectional portal branch, and caudate portal vein. Within 1 week after PVE, patients went into sepsis combined with bile leak and died within 1 month.
Sepsis can cause acute liver failure in patients with chronic liver disease. In this study, the common patient characteristics other than sepsis, that is, trisectional PVE; chronic alcoholism; aged >65 years; heart-related comorbidity; and elevated serum total bilirubin (TB) level (7.0 mg/dL) at the time of the PVE procedure in 1 patient, and concurrent biliary procedure, that is, percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage in the other patient might have affected the outcomes of PVE.
These cases highlight that PVE is not a safe procedure. Care should be taken to minimize the occurrence of infectious events because sepsis following PVE can cause acute liver failure. Additionally, prior to performing PVE, the extent of PVE, chronic alcohol consumption, age, comorbidity, long-lasting jaundice, concurrent biliary procedure, etc. should be considered for patient safety.