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Hepatic Artery Infusion (HAI) Pump

Male provider sitting with male patient and holding his shoulder

Penn Medicine cancer specialists are  national leaders in using hepatic artery infusion (HAI) pumps to treat metastatic colon cancer (cancer that has spread from the colon to the liver) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (cancer that develops in the cells within the bile ducts both inside and outside the liver).

We are the only medical center in the Philadelphia region that treats patients with hepatic artery infusion pumps. Our large team are experts in all facets of the pump. The team includes:

  • Oncologists who are skilled in administering chemotherapy doses via HAI pumps that are combined to treat your specific cancer
  • Surgeons with experience placing HAI pumps
  • Dedicated interventional radiologists trained in procedures to ensure your HAI pump is working properly

About the Hepatic Artery Infusion Pump

An HAI pump is about the size of a hockey puck. It is implanted in your skin between your ribs and your pelvis and connected by a small catheter into the hepatic artery, which supplies blood to your liver. We usually implant the pump while we’re performing surgery to remove liver tumors.

Traditional chemotherapy is given by vein (or through IV), so it gets diluted through your whole body. The amount of chemotherapy that gets to your liver is a relatively low concentration. In contrast, the HAI pump is filled with chemotherapy and directs the chemotherapy right into your liver.

This allows us to treat you even if traditional intravenous chemotherapy alone wouldn’t effectively treat your cancer.

HAI Pump vs. Traditional Intravenous Chemotherapy

Since the HAI pump treats only the liver, we use it in conjunction with intravenous chemotherapy. Traditional IV chemotherapy can prevent cancer from spreading or occurring elsewhere in your body. The pump may be used to try to shrink large tumors or reduce the number of tumors, with the hope that they can then be surgically removed.

HAI pumps are not usually the first line of treatment for metastatic colon cancer or intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Often, you first receive a liver resection, tumors are removed and then a pump is used.

The most likely spot for recurrence of metastatic colon cancer after a liver resection is in other parts of the liver. The HAI pump is placed to avoid cancer recurrence. However, if it is not possible for us to surgically remove cancer from your liver, we may use an HAI pump as a first treatment approach.