The authors report their 4-year (1984-1988) experience with TCE in the treatment of primary sacral benign/malignant and vascular bone tumors, after similar preliminary studies on aneurysmal bone cysts. Eleven patients were treated, for a total of 21 procedures: in 85% of the eight cases of palliative embolization, multiple instrumental approaches were needed for late revascularization, up to four consecutive embolizations in the same patients. Severe complications were observed in 19% of the procedures, due to arterial catheterization and/or instrumental maneuvers, but in none of them was surgery required. Technical results--i.e. devascularization of the mass--were optimal/suboptimal in all cases at the end of multiple procedures in the same patient: in 7/8 patients treated for palliation, however, the treatment was repeated, the late venous DSA angiographic control showing recanalization of the great vessels surrounding the lesion and/or revascularization through collateral channels. The analysis of morphological and clinical results (with reference to pain relief, dimension of the mass, and calcification at CT follow up) showed a complete pain relief in 100% of the patients treated preoperatively for palliation. The dimension of the mass was reduced in 12.5% of the cases treated for palliation, and recalcification was demonstrated on CT in 12.5% of cases. In 25.5% the mass had increased in size and in 62.5% its dimensions were unchanged. Effective pain relief was always obtained in the cases treated preoperatively. Thus, in our experience TCE of expansive lesions of the sacral bone can be considered as an effective therapeutical choice, with special reference to pain relief, for use in all inoperable cases, and as a preoperative treatment to minimize blood loss at surgery. Still, embolization materials are not completely satisfying: many of them are expensive, difficult to use and cannot be trusted to permanently occlude the vessels, which forces to intervene more than once to obtain optimal clinicomorphological results. As for malignant lesions, chemo-embolization with cytostatic substances should be used to improve the efficacy of the method. However, even through such negative judgements can be expressed on TCE, both technical and clinical results have been, in our experience, quite satisfactory, which calls for optimization of the methodology.
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