About the procedure

Bland embolization is a nonsurgical, minimally-invasive treatment option for liver cancer patients whose tumors cannot be removed by surgery because of the number of tumors or their location. With this procedure, interventional radiologists are able to treat large or large numbers of tumors that are not amenable to surgery or ablative therapies, with the goal of tumor control, pain relief, and increased quality of life.

In the procedure, small, embolic particles are injected into the blood supply to the tumor through a tiny catheter. This results in tumor death by ischemia (blocking the flow of oxygen and nutrients).

Bland embolization has several benefits. It can be used in conjunction with other treatments to shrink tumors before surgery or control blood loss. It can provide a primary treatment for your cancer if other treatments have failed or you are not a candidate for them. And it can be performed as a palliative (non-curative) treatment to reduce pain and other symptoms caused by the tumors. The procedure can shrink existing tumors and prevent the formation of new ones, while preserving liver function and allowing a relatively normal quality of life.

What to expect

If your oncologist, in consultation with the best interventional radiology specialists in Dallas at MTV IR, decides that you are a candidate for this procedure, it will be performed in a hospital by interventional radiologists. You should not eat solid foods for six hours before the procedure.

When you arrive for the procedure, medical staff will insert an intravenous needle into your arm to control anesthesia during the procedure, and other catheters or monitors may be used to measure your vital signs. Once you enter the procedure room, the area around your groin will be shaved and washed with a special soap. After a numbing medication is injected into the area, the interventional radiologist will insert a catheter into the large femoral artery and guide it into place in your liver using X-rays. You will be sedated during the procedure, but can tell the doctors if there is any pain or discomfort. The time required for the procedure varies, but averages 1 to 2 hours.

After the procedure, the catheter in your groin is removed and you will be asked to lie flat while the doctors monitor your blood pressure and pulses in your feet. It is important to remain as motionless as possible during this recovery period to prevent bleeding and allow the puncture in your artery to close properly. After 2 to 6 hours, you will be asked to walk a short distance with a nurse, and afterwards if you feel OK you can be discharged and go home. The first day after discharge you should avoid driving, limit your activities, and get plenty of rest. Avoid physical exertion or heavy lifting, anything over 20 lbs, for another three days. Full recovery usually takes 7 to 10 days.

Whatever your oncology treatment needs, you can be assured that you will receive the best care possible by relying on the best liver cancer doctors in Dallas, at MTV IR. We work closely with your oncologist and surgical oncologist to determine the most effective treatment options possible.