Transarterial Chemoembolization (TACE)

What Is TACE?

Transarterial Chemoembolization, known as TACE, is a minimally-invasive, image-guided treatment for liver cancer. It helps shrink or eradicate tumors by targeting them and blocking their blood flow and delivering chemotherapy directly to the tumor. It allows doctors to treat tumors that are not accessible using conventional surgery or radiation treatments. 

During TACE, an interventional radiologist delivers chemotherapy medicine directly to the blood vessels supplying the liver tumor using real-time image guidance through a tiny incision in the groin. The interventional radiologist also physically blocks the blood vessels feeding the tumor. TACE typically takes about two hours and may require an overnight hospital stay so we can monitor your condition.

How Do I Prepare for TACE?

  • Consultation - We will schedule an appointment for you. We may also draw blood to check blood counts and liver and kidney function.
  • When to Arrive - Arrival time varies according to procedure. We will tell you what time to arrive when you make your appointment.
  • Contrast - TACE uses contrast material (which has iodine in it) to help our interventional radiologists see the blood vessels of the liver better. The contrast material is injected into the arteries. Contrast helps the interventional radiologist see inside the body more clearly. We carefully assess your risk and any potential allergies before giving you contrast. 
  • Eating - Please do not eat solid foods, candy or gum after 10 pm on the night before your procedure. We may need to reschedule your procedure if you do.
  • Drinking - Please drink only clear liquids after 10 pm on the night before your procedure. Stay hydrated by drinking one or two tall glasses every one to two hours while you are awake. Please stop drinking anything three hours before your procedure.
  • Medications - Please take your regularly scheduled medications with a sip of water. If you are currently taking any anti-coagulation medications, such as Coumadin®, Eliquis® or Plavix®, please call your referring physician for holding instructions at least five days before your procedure.
  • Procedural Sedation - This exam uses sedation to help you feel comfortable during your procedure. You can eat and drink as you normally would the day before your procedure. Starting at 10:00 pm on the night before your procedure, please stop eating completely and only drink liquids you can see through.
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What to Expect After a TACE Procedure

After your procedure, you should take it easy for a few days and avoid any strenuous activity for 10 days. Most people get back to normal activity in one to three weeks.

Videos About TACE

Mass General interventional radiologists share more information about TACE, including how the procedure works and what happens before, during and after the procedure.