Pulmonary oil embolism after transcatheter oily chemoembolization of hepatocellular carcinoma

Radiology. 1993 Jun;187(3):689-93. doi: 10.1148/radiology.187.3.8388567.


The medical records of 336 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who underwent transcatheter oily chemoembolization (TOCE) performed via the hepatic artery were retrospectively reviewed to ascertain the occurrence of symptomatic pulmonary oil embolism. In 14 patients, more than 20 mL of iodized oil was administered. In six of these 14 patients, respiratory symptoms of cough, hemoptysis, and dyspnea developed 2-5 days after TOCE, and their chest radiographs showed diffuse bilateral pulmonary parenchymal infiltrate. Their arterial partial pressure of oxygen while they breathed room air ranged from 39 to 60 mm Hg during maximum hypoxemia. The symptoms, arterial hypoxemia, and chest radiographic abnormalities completely cleared 10-28 days after TOCE in the five patients who survived. One patient died 10 days after TOCE because of respiratory arrest with a progression of pulmonary infiltrate. Although histopathologic proof is lacking, it is concluded that massive pulmonary embolization of iodized oil was the primary cause of the clinical and radiographic manifestations in these six patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodized Oil / administration & dosage
  • Iodized Oil / adverse effects*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Embolism / etiology*
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Iodized Oil