BACKGROUND: Transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) is a routine treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhotic patients. Whether TACE influences the degree of portal hypertension remains uncertain. AIM AND
PATIENTS: We retrospectively analyzed the clinical course of 283 TACE to investigate the incidence of variceal bleeding and ascites after the procedure. We also prospectively evaluated portal pressure by hepatic venous portal gradient (HVPG) before and within 3 days by TACE in a group of 15 patients.
RESULTS: Before TACE, esophageal varices were present in 125 patients. Variceal bleeding occurred in three (1.5%) and ascites in two (1%) patients during the follow-up post-TACE. Patients with variceal bleeding were significantly older (P=0.019). In 15 patients who underwent portal pressure measurement before and within 3 days by TACE, HVPG was unchanged (mean 13.1 vs. 12.8 mmHg, P>0.05).
CONCLUSION: In our series portal hypertension-related complications after TACE were rare and did not result in higher mortality. As TACE did not influence HVPG, the preventive ligation of esophageal varices before TACE does not seem justified.