During Hepatic Arterial Infusion (HAI) chemotherapy, a high dose of chemotherapy drugs are pumped into the hepatic artery — the main source of blood and nutrients for liver tumors — through a tiny pump under the skin in the lower abdomen. Additional chemotherapy medicine is injected into the pump, as needed, on an outpatient basis. Because HAI chemotherapy is delivered regionally (only to the tumor site), it causes fewer toxic side effects and has been associated with better physical functioning than systemic chemotherapy.
In a number of patients who cannot have liver metastases removed because of their number, size, or location, HAI plus systemic therapy can reduce tumors so resection can become possible.
Common Side Effects
Because the chemotherapy in the pump is quickly extracted by the liver, the HAI is rarely associated with the side effects of systemic chemo. The major side effect from HAI is liver toxicity, so liver enzymes should be monitored every two weeks. Other side effects may include stomach ulcers and biliary sclerosis or inflammation/thickening of the bile ducts.
Typically, the patient will go home the same day. If a laparoscopic procedure is selected, the patient usually goes home the following day. An open surgical procedure requires an incision be made in the abdomen, general anesthesia is needed and the recovery period will be longer.