of the right hepatic artery, causing intermitent hemorrhage, before and
after treatment with arterial embolization. The liver continued to be supplied
by the portal circulation and to have normal function.
Embolization is the intentional blockage
of an artery to stop the flow of blood through the artery. Small metal
wires (coils), small plastic beads or small pieces of sponge-like material
(gelfoam) are inserted through a catheter into the artery to be blocked.
This treatment is used to prevent internal hemorrhage (bleeding), or to
deprive a tumor of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow, by blocking
the blood supply to it.
Following is a description of the some
of the procedures RCT physicians perform, along with images that show the
dramatic results produced using these techniques.
Embolization is a palliative (non-curative)
treatment for liver cancer. This can be a cancer originating in the liver
or a cancer that has spread ("metastasized") to the liver from other areas
in the body. The artery is blocked off ("embolized") with a mixture of
coil and tiny particles. This procedure deprives the tumor of oxygen and
nutrients once the blood supply is blocked.
During embolization, chemotherapy drugs
may be injected directly into the artery that supplies blood to the tumor
in the liver. The use of chemotherapy drugs during embolization is called
chemoembolization. Because these drugs are injected directly at the
tumor site, this dosage is 20 to 200 times greater than that achieved with
standard chemotherapy injected into a vein in the arm. And because the
artery is blocked, no blood washes through the tumor so the drugs stay
in the tumor for a much longer time � as long as a month. Chemoembolization
only treats tumors in the liver and will have little or no effect on any
other cancer in the body.