Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bland Liver Embolization was a Success!

On July 15th, I had a bland liver embolization on the right/middle of my liver.  This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure where “beads” are put into the arteries in the liver to block the blood flow to the tumors.  The beads are inserted via a small tube in an artery the groin area.  By blocking the blood flow to the tumor, it should experience necrosis or tumor death.   For more information on the different types of liver embolizations and an explanation of the procedure, please take a look at the blog Walking with Jane as follows:

My doctors explained that the bland embolization was safer for me than either chemoembolization or radioembolization because my tumors were extremely vascular, meaning there was a lot of blood flow to the tumors.  Both chemoembolization and radioembolization use beads treated with chemotherapy or radiation, respectively, to treat the tumors.  The risk of treated beads is that they can miss the target of the liver tumors and apply chemotherapy or radiation to the wrong areas of the body. Bland embolization, which uses untreated beads, can also miss the target and wind up in another area of the body but these beads may be less harmful without the chemotherapy or radiation. When having this procedure, it is important to have an interventional radiologist that has a lot of experience with liver embolization.

Many times, a patient will need two treatments, one for each side (lobe) of the liver.  These treatments are usually about a month or more apart.  I just had a one month CT scan and a post-op appointment with the interventional radiologist who said that the embolization went very well and that the tumors that were embolized were dead.  He showed me the images on the CT scan and they were all black.  The largest mass in my right lobe was 8.8 x 4.8 cm and the next largest was 4.4 x 3.1 cm.  At this point the tumors in the left side of my liver are very small and my doctors do not believe that they should be embolized unless they grow.  They will monitor with another CT in November and do the left side embolization if they grow. 

After the embolization I experienced postembolization syndrome (fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and elevated liver enzymes).  It was quite painful for 2-3 days after the procedure.  After about a week, I felt a little better but I could still feel my liver area every time I inhaled, which was annoying.  This lasted several days and then I really had no symptoms after about 3 weeks post-embolization.  My alkaline phosphatase, one of the liver enzymes measured in a comprehensive metabolic panel is still elevated and my doctor said it could stay that way for a few months.  The rest of my liver enzymes are normal now. Also, I used to have occasional flushing, even when taking Sandostatin LAR.  Since the embolization, I have not had one episode of flushing.

On another interesting note, the tumors outside my liver, mostly in and around my lymph nodes, have been stable since I had the first round of PRRT in the clinical trial.  I wonder if the PRRT might have worked on these tumors, just not for the liver lesions. Now it’s time to give my body a break from treatments for a few months.


  1. Thanks for the update Beth. I have been wondering what would be next after the PRRT trial and am glad to hear about your bland embolization. I have been thinking about what I will do in the future when the inevitable growth takes place. I think ( at this point anyway) that I would try embolization before PRRT. The thought of all the radiation you get with PRRT is daunting as well as the treatment with amino acids prior to protect kidneys. I'm so prone to nausea that that is a huge fear factor for me. Hope this all continues to go well. Sara

    1. Thanks for the comment Sara. I think embolization and prrt may be used in different circumstances. If the tumor growth is primarily or all in the liver, then ablation or embolization is usually recommended. If the tumor growth is more systemic or in multiple places, prrt might be a better treatment. When prrt works, it can give stability in better quality of life for several years. I'm not sure most embolizations last that long. Stay well!

  2. Delighted to hear that this worked for you Beth! You had a much better experience than I did with Y-90

    1. Laura,
      I hope that your next treatment helps to improve your quality of life. As Cy Ball says, "May we all have the best possible outcomes".

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  5. Hi Beth,
    Any updates on your health?
    Just got done with a bland embolization to liver and have scheduled my second and third one [I have three arteries going into my liver]
    During 2016 I went through 3 Y90 treatments and 2 during 2017.
    My liver now is too weak and doctors don't recommend any other radiation treatment, which leaves me with very few choices. Also I'm not positive receptor to be able to do PRRT.
    The embolization went quite well, no nausea, no vomiting, a bit of a fever and overall discomfort.
    Interested to know if you've had any other treatments