Chemoembolization is a procedure in which chemotherapy beads are injected directly into the blood supply of a tumor.

First, an angiogram is performed to identify the blood supply to the tumor, and then a small catheter (tube) is passed through the blood vessels into the artery that feeds the tumor under fluoroscopic guidance. The chemotherapy beads are then injected directly into the blood vessel that feeds the tumor. The particles wedge into the blood vessels, blocking blood flow to the tumor and releasing chemotherapy over 2 to 3 weeks, killing the tumor. Chemoembolization serves to both block the blood supply and allow for higher doses of chemotherapy to be delivered to the tumor, without causing many of the severe side effects that are often associated with regular chemotherapy.

Preparing for Chemoembolization

Chemoembolization is performed with conscious sedation, a process in which you are given medication to make you sleepy but not unconscious. Conscious sedation requires that you not eat a meal for eight hours before the procedure. Most medications can be taken the morning of the procedure except for medications that affect blood clotting (aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, Coumadin, etc).

If you are taking one of these medications, you may need to stop taking it or be switched to another medicine for a few days before the procedure. This will be coordinated by your doctor, if necessary.

What to Expect After Chemoembolization

After the procedure, you should expect to spend one night in the hospital to receive your post-procedure IV pain medicine, if needed. Most patients are able to go home the day after the procedure.

Patients sometimes complain of mild upper-abdominal pain and nausea following the procedure. Low-grade fevers may also occur as the tumor begins to die. You should expect to be out of work for about three to seven days. 

How We’re Different

Our interventional radiologists are specialists in chemoembolization, as well as in treating the areas of the body under care and the conditions leading to the procedure. In addition to the training that all radiologists receive, these specialists have additional fellowship training in interventional radiology, plus extensive real-world experience.

Our team of interventional radiologists and physician assistants coordinates your complete care – from imaging evaluation to post-procedure follow-up – maintaining a high level of communication with you throughout the process.

In addition, we coordinate closely with experts from across the UT Southwestern community when necessary.

Request an Appointment

To meet with an interventional radiologist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas, or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.