Percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI) is a relatively new therapeutic technique for the treatment of liver tumours. PEI is now considered a reliable alternative to surgical resection for cirrhotic patients with a single, small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Intratumoral injection of absolute ethanol, in fact, achieves complete ablation of HCC nodules 3 cm or less in diameter with a high probability. Moreover, PEI is not associated with significant morbidity or mortality and does not damage non-cancerous liver parenchyma. Long-term survival rates of PEI-treated patients were similar to those obtained in matched patients submitted to partial hepatectomy. In large HCC lesions, the anticancer effect of PEI can be significantly enhanced by pretreatment of the tumour with transcatheter arterial chemoembolisation. PEI may also be effectively used to destroy adenomatous hyperplastic nodules in liver cirrhosis, which represent precancerous lesions. The results of PEI in the treatment of liver metastases, in contrast, have been far less encouraging than in the case of HCC, so that PEI is not recommended when other interventional procedures such as radiofrequency electrocautery or interstitial laser photocoagulation are available. Imaging procedures plays a key role in PEI, as they provide a reliable assessment of the therapeutic effect of the procedure
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