Purpose: While influx of chemoembolic agents into the hepatic falciform artery (HFA) from the hepatic artery can cause supraumbilical skin rash, epigastric pain and even skin necrosis, the significance of a patent HFA in patients undergoing radioembolization is not completely clear. Furthermore, the presence of tracer in the anterior abdominal wall seen in (99m)Tc-macroaggregated albumin ((99m)Tc-MAA) images, which is generally performed prior to radioembolization, has been described as a sign of a patent HFA. The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the incidence and consequences of (99m)Tc-MAA accumulation in the anterior abdominal wall, indicating a patent HFA, in patients undergoing radioembolization of liver tumours.
Methods: A total of 224 diagnostic hepatic angiograms combined with (99m)Tc-MAA SPECT/CT were acquired in 192 patients with different types of cancer, of whom 142 were treated with a total of 214 radioembolization procedures. All patients received a whole-body scan, and planar and SPECT/CT scans of the abdomen. Only patients with extrahepatic (99m)Tc-MAA accumulation in the anterior abdominal wall were included in this study. Posttreatment bremsstrahlung SPECT/CT and follow-up results for at least 3 months served as reference standards.
Results: Tracer accumulation in the anterior abdominal wall was present in pretreatment (99m)Tc-MAA SPECT/CT images of 18 patients (9.3%). The HFA was found and embolized by radiologists before treatment in one patient. In the remaining patients radioembolization was performed without any modification in the treatment plan despite the previously mentioned extrahepatic accumulation. Only one patient experienced abdominal muscle pain above the navel, which started 24 h after treatment and lasted for 48 h without any skin changes. The remaining patients did not experience any relevant side effects during the follow-up period.
Conclusion: Side effects after radioembolization in patients with tracer accumulation in the anterior abdominal wall on (99m)Tc-MAA scans indicating a patent HFA are neither common nor severe. Thus, there is no absolute need for prophylactic embolization of the HFA or modification of the treatment plan if the HFA is not detectable on angiography.