Treatment of unresectable intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma using transarterial chemoembolisation with irinotecan-eluting beads: analysis of efficacy and safety

Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2022 Aug;45(8):1092-1101. doi: 10.1007/s00270-022-03108-z. Epub 2022 May 19.


Purpose: This retrospective study evaluated the efficacy, safety, and factors affecting the prognosis of transarterial chemoembolisation with irinotecan-eluting beads with CalliSpheres (DEB-TACE) for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC).

Materials and methods: We retrospectively collected data on 39 patients with unresectable ICC who received DEB-TACE therapy. We assessed the indicators of tumour response, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and the incidence of adverse events. PFS and OS were analysed using Kaplan-Meier curves, while Cox analysis was used to identify factors affecting the prognosis.

Results: The 3-month objective response rate (ORR) and disease control rate (DCR) of the 39 patients with unresectable ICC were 35.9% and 56.4%, respectively, while the 6-month ORR and DCR were 23.0% and 40.9%, respectively. The median OS and PFS were 11.0 months and 8.0 months, respectively. Cox analysis demonstrated that combined therapy (adjuvant sorafenib after DEB-TACE) and a low cancer antigen (CA) 125 level (≤ 35 U/ml) were independent favourable prognostic factors. Transient elevation of the aminotransferase level, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, and hyper-bilirubinaemia were common adverse events in patients with unresectable ICC treated with DEB-TACE with CalliSphere beads (CBs). Hepatic abscess was the most serious complication, observed in one patient.

Conclusions: DEB-TACE with CBs is a safe and well-tolerated therapy in patients with unresectable ICC with a low incidence of adverse events and relatively prolonged survival. Combined therapy and low CA125 are prognostic factors associated with longer survival.

Keywords: Chemotherapeutic drug; Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma; Transarterial chemoembolization.

MeSH terms

  • Bile Duct Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / therapy
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic* / adverse effects
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Irinotecan
  • Liver Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Topoisomerase I Inhibitors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Topoisomerase I Inhibitors
  • Irinotecan