Small particles or beads, ranging in size from 100 to 900 microns made of a biocompatible resin, are injected into selected vessels to block the blood flow feeding the tumors, causing the tumor to shrink.
Over a series of months, the embolized vessels will permanently shrink and the tumor will decrease in size. Embolization can be performed with bland particles (without drug added), or with drug added which is called TACE (Transarterial Chemoembolization). Cutting off the blood supply to the tumor allows for higher doses of chemotherapy to be delivered and remain in contact with the tumor, and preventing the chemotherapy from reaching healthy tissue.
Common Side Effects
The side effects will differ depending upon the type of embolization used. The most common complications reported are pain, nausea and severe post-embolization syndrome (fever, pain, extreme fatigue, nausea/vomiting), hepatic injury and liver abscess.
Most patients can be discharged a few hours after the procedure. If post embolization syndrome occurs, an overnight stay is normally required.