Hepatic arterial chemoembolization for metastatic neuroendocrine tumors

Digestion. 1994:55 Suppl 3:92-7. doi: 10.1159/000201208.


Purpose of the study: To evaluate the effectiveness of chemoembolization of the liver with doxorubicin and iopamidol emulsified in ethiodized oil for the treatment of metastatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Patients and methods: Twenty patients with hepatic islet cell or carcinoid metastases were treated with selected hepatic arterial embolization consisting of an emulsion of doxorubicin and iopamidol emulsified in ethiodol followed by Gelfoam powder embolization. Fifteen patients had failed intravenous chemotherapy. Two of the patients with carcinoid tumors had three embolizations over 4 and one 6 years earlier with gelatin sponge only.

Results: In 14 patients with hormonally active tumors, hormones secretion decreased 90% (range 69-98%) in 10 days with relief of symptoms in all patients. Average tumor size decrease was 84%. Average hospital stay was 8 days. Six patients are alive and asymptomatic at 14-33 months postembolization. Fourteen patients have died 2-16 months postembolization. Ten patients died 2-37 months postembolization from progressive liver disease. One of these patients was 103 months post-Gelfoam embolization and 13 months postchemoembolization. In 8 patients, the pancreas was the primary site: 5 were nonfunctioning islet cell carcinomas, 1 glucagonoma, 1 gastrinoma and 1 carcinoid. The primary site in 1 patient with carcinoid was the bronchus, and the primary site was unknown in 1 patient with gastrinoma. The remaining 4 patients died with liver disease under control from renal failure, peritonitis, carcinoid heart failure and generalized bone metastases. The response rate was 95% with median duration of response 8.5 months. The median survival was 24 months.

Conclusion: Chemoembolization with doxorubicin and iopamidol emulsified in ethiodized oil is less morbid than embolization with particulate matter alone, is more convenient and less costly, and it is less morbid than the effects of systemic chemotherapy. The median survival, duration and response compare favorably with other reported therapies.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoid Tumor / mortality
  • Carcinoid Tumor / secondary*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / therapy*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic*
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage*
  • Ethiodized Oil / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Gelatin Sponge, Absorbable
  • Hepatic Artery
  • Humans
  • Ileal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Iopamidol / administration & dosage
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Survival Rate


  • Ethiodized Oil
  • Doxorubicin
  • Iopamidol