Liver Embolisation for Patients with Neuroendocrine Neoplasms: Systematic Review

Neuroendocrinology. 2021;111(4):354-369. doi: 10.1159/000507194. Epub 2020 Mar 13.


Background: Liver embolisation is one of the treatment options available for patients diagnosed with neuro-endocrine neoplasms (NEN). It is still uncertain whether the benefits of the various types of embolisation treatments truly outweigh the complications in NENs. This systematic review assesses the available data relating to liver embolisation in patients with NENs.

Methods: Eligible studies (identified using MEDLINE-PubMed) were those reporting data on NEN patients who had undergone any type of liver embolisation. The primary end points were best radiological response and symptomatic response; secondary end-points included progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and toxicity.

Results: Of 598 studies screened, 101 were eligible: 16 were prospective (15.8%). The eligible studies included a total of 5,545 NEN patients, with a median of 39 patients per study (range 5-214). Pooled rate of partial response was 36.6% (38.9% achieved stable disease) and 55.2% of patients had a symptomatic response to therapy when pooled data were analysed. The median PFS and OS were 18.4 months (95% CI 15.5-21.2) and 40.7 months (95% CI 35.2-46.2) respectively. The most common toxicities were found to be abdominal pain (48.8%) and nausea (48.1%). Outcome did not significantly vary depending on the type of embolisation performed.

Conclusion: Liver embolisation provides adequate symptom relief for patients with carcinoid syndrome and is also able to reach partial response in a significant proportion of patients and a reasonable PFS. Quality of studies was limited, highlighting the need of further prospective studies to confirm the most suitable form of liver embolisation in NENs.

Keywords: Carcinoid syndrome; Chemo-embolisation; Liver embolisation; Neuroendocrine neoplasms; Radio-embolisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic* / adverse effects
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic* / methods
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / radiotherapy
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / therapy*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care* / statistics & numerical data