, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 951-957,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 31 Oct 2012

Complications and clinical outcome of hepatic artery embolisation in patients with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia



Hepatic artery embolisation (HAE) in patients with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is controversial because of the associated complications and unproven long-term benefit. We present our results in 20 such patients over a time span of 17 years.


Staged HAE was performed using polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) particles and coils. Complications, clinical symptoms and cardiac output were assessed before and after therapy as well as at the end of follow-up (median 92 months, range 26–208 months).


Two patients died within 30 days following HAE (10 %). Four further deaths resulted from causes unrelated to HAE. Ischaemic cholangitis, cholecystitis and focal hepatic necrosis with biliary sepsis necessitated re-intervention in four patients. In all but one patient, clinical symptoms resolved with mean cardiac output falling from 11.84 ± 3.22 l/min pre-treatment to 8.13 ± 2.67 l/min at the end of follow-up (P < 0.001). One patient required liver transplantation for de novo symptoms of portal hypertension 4 years after primary symptoms had been cured by HAE.


The 30-day mortality of HAE in patients with HHT is 10 %. The rate of complications requiring re-intervention is 20 %. Clinical response at long-term follow-up is satisfactory.

Key Points

Hepatic artery embolisation (HAE) in hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) provides long-term benefit.

Mortalities of HAE and liver transplantation in HHT patients are comparable.

In HHT, complications of HAE are lower than those of liver transplantation.

Complications of HAE can be further reduced by refinement of technique.

Complications include ischaemic cholangitis, hepatic necrosis, biliary sepsis and death.