What is Y90 Radioembolization?
Transarterial radioembolization with Yttrium-90 (Y90) is a minimally invasive procedure to treat certain cancers within the liver. It is a nonsurgical approach performed by the interventional radiologist who will deliver tiny radioactive beads into the arteries supplying the tumors. These beads emit radioactive waves over the next few weeks which are only harmful to the tissues within 1-3 millimeters of their placement.
What kind of cancers can be treated by Y90 Radioembolization?
● Primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)
● Liver metastasis from other sources
What are the benefits of Y90 Radioembolization?
Implantation of Y90 radioactive beads into a liver tumor through the blood stream can cause the tumor to shrink or even completely kill the tumor in some cases while limiting effects to the surrounding non-cancerous liver. Radioembolization can also be used as a pre-surgical
technique in certain circumstances to make a person with liver tumors eligible for transplant or resection of liver cancer.
What happens during and after the procedure?
The procedure is a two step process performed in a state of the art angiography lab equipped
with both fluoroscopic and ultrasound imaging. First, the interventional radiologist will perform a detailed mapping of the arteries supplying the liver and the tumors within the liver. This is performed with a long tube which enters the body through one of the blood vessels in the groin or wrist. Contrast dye is injected through this tube into the liver and gut arteries to map out the area. Once the arteries supplying the tumor are identified, a safety test is performed to make sure the radioactive beads for treatment will only go to the tumor and will not send dangerous amounts of radiation to other organs like the lungs or stomach. After pictures are taken to confirm the safety of the intended treatment zone, the treatment dose
is calculated and the patient returns 1-2 weeks later for administration of the radioactive Y90
beads within that treatment zone. Each patient is instructed to keep from intense physical activity for 3-5 days after the procedure. Otherwise, normal daily activities can be resumed almost immediately. Since the radiation does not travel more than a few millimeters from the implanted beads, there is generally no need for special precautions around loved ones.
What are the risks?
In appropriately selected patients, the risks of radioembolization are quite low compared to a
surgery. The most common symptom after radioembolization is fatigue, usually lasting for 1-2
weeks. Other potential post-procedural symptoms include abdominal tenderness, nausea,
bleeding, or infection. Despite doing the safety check beforehand, there is a small chance the
beads can go to unintended organs such as the lungs or stomach and cause scarring or
ulceration. Rarely, contrast dye can cause an allergic reaction or kidney damage.