Intratumoral Gas in Hepatocellular Carcinoma following Transarterial Chemoembolization: Associated Factors and Clinical Impact

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To determine the frequency and factors associated with the presence of intratumoral gas-containing areas in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) on computed tomography (CT) scans obtained 4–6 weeks after transarterial chemoembolization.

Materials and Methods:

From June 2010 to December 2011, 201 patients underwent 286 chemoembolization procedures for HCC (n = 497 tumors) and were retrospectively included. The presence of intratumoral gas was assessed on CT 4–6 weeks after chemoembolization. Clinical and biologic data and tumoral and chemoembolization procedure characteristics were noted. Factors associated with the presence of intratumoral gas were evaluated. Tumor response was assessed by using European Society for the Study of the Liver criteria. Tumors containing gas or not containing gas were compared by univariate and multivariate analysis.


Intratumoral gas was found in 26 tumors (5%) after 26 chemoembolization procedures (9.1%) in 26 patients (13%). Gas was related to abscess formation in three patients (11.5%). On multivariate analysis, a large mean tumor diameter at baseline (72.4 mm vs 40.2 mm; P = .003), chemoembolization with drug-eluting beads (P = .033), and superselective approach (P = .024) were independently associated with the presence of gas. Tumors that exhibited gas-containing areas at 1 month had a significantly higher objective response rate than those that did not (P < .0001).


Intratumoral gas-containing areas after chemoembolization are rarely related to the formation of abscesses. The presence of intratumoral gas on CT 4–6 weeks after chemoembolization could be a surrogate marker for marked tumor necrosis.

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