Eighteen patients with severe symptoms of the carcinoid syndrome were assessed for hepatic embolisation. Four were too ill, and one had mild symptoms; thus 13 received a periembolisation regimen of cyproheptadine, fenclonine, aprotinin, methylprednisolone, tobramycin, flucloxacillin, and metronidazole. Embolisation was not performed in one patient with an occluded portal vein and was unsatisfactory in two others, in one because she was moribund and in the other because the hepatic artery had been ligated. Dramatic improvement in symptoms occurred in the nine patients in whom embolisation was successfully carried out, with abolition of flushing, severe abdominal pain, and wheeze and reduction in diarrhoea from 10.5 (SD 7.6) to 1.6 (0.9) stools/day. Urinary excretion of 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid fell from 1048 (716) to 289 (184) μmol/24 h (200 (137) to 55 (35) mg/24/h). Complications included one death from septicaemia, a hepatic abscess requiring surgical drainage, abdominal pain in three patients, pleural effusion in two, and transient encephalopathy in one. Relief of symptoms lasted for one to 24 months, and second embolisation in two patients produced further remissions of four to six months. Five patients died, one to 40 months after embolisation, in four cases because of metastases or heart failure. Hepatic embolisation is the treatment of choice for symptoms of the carcinoid syndrome resistant to medical treatment.
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