Imaging tumor response following liver-directed intra-arterial therapy

Yang Guo, Vahid Yaghmai, Riad Salem, Robert J Lewandowski, Paul Nikolaidis, Andrew Christian Larson, Frank H Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Liver-directed intra-arterial therapies are palliative treatment options for patients with unresectable liver cancer; their use has also resulted in patients being downstaged leading to curative resection and transplantation. These intra-arterial therapies include transarterial embolization, conventional transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), drug-eluting bead TACE and radioembolization. Assessment of imaging response following these liver-directed intra-arterial therapies is challenging but pivotal for patient management. Size measurements based on computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been traditionally used to assess tumor response to therapy. However, these anatomic changes lag behind functional changes and may require months to occur. Further, these intra-arterial therapies cause acute tumor necrosis, which may result in a paradoxical increase in tumor size on early follow-up imaging despite complete cell death or necrosis. This concept is unique comparing to changes seen following systemic chemotherapy. The recent development of functional imaging techniques including diffusion-weighted MRI (DW MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) allow for early assessment of treatment response and even prediction of overall tumor response to intra-arterial therapies. Although the results of DW MRI and PET studies are promising, the impact of these imaging modalities to assess treatment response has been limited without standardized protocols. The aim of this review article is to delineate the best practice for assessing tumor response in patients with primary or secondary hepatic malignancies undergoing intra-arterial therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1286-1299
Number of pages14
JournalAbdominal Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • Chemoembolization
  • DW MRI
  • Hepatic malignancy
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver metastases
  • PET
  • Yttrium radioembolization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology


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