Introduction: Pre-transplant locoregional therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) during bridge-to-transplant impacts recurrence and survival rates following liver transplantation. Optimizing the effectiveness of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) in this population is imperative, and microvalve infusion catheters offer a means of such improvement. Methods: All treatment-naive patients with solitary HCC tumors < 6.5 cm who underwent drug-eluting microspheres (DEM) TACE between 04/2015 and 08/2017 were retrospectively reviewed. Eighty-eight included patients underwent DEM-TACE with either standard end-hole catheters (EH) or microvalve infusion catheters (MVI). The EH (n = 70) and MVI (n = 18) cohorts had similar baseline tumor size, laboratory values, and tumor etiologies. Results: Initial objective response rates were significantly higher in MVI vs. EH (100% vs. 76.5%, p = 0.019). There was no difference in adverse events between groups (p = 0.265). MVI patients exhibited lower AST (p = 0.003) and ALT (p = 0.044) at 6 months. Blinded pathological analysis of explanted livers showed greater concentrations of microspheres within the tumor relative to the surrounding tissue in MVI explants (88.7 ± 10.6%) versus the EH explants (55.3 ± 32.7%) (p = 0.002). There was significantly higher percentage tumor necrosis in the MVI group (89.0 ± 2.2%) compared with the EH group (56.1 ± 44.5%) (p = 0.006). Conclusion: In this retrospective study of a single-center cohort, DEM-TACE procedures with MVI were associated with improved tumor response, increased deposition of microspheres within tumor tissue, and higher percentage tumor necrosis at explant relative to those performed using EH catheters.
- Anti-reflux catheter
- Hepatocellular tumor pathology
- Liver explant
- Liver transplantation
- Locoregional therapy