Radio-embolisation is the delivery of radioactive microspheres to cancers using an endovascular approach. It is often performed as an outpatient procedure. 

  • primary liver cancer or liver metastases
  • bilirubin of < 2.0
  • tumour size less that than 70% of the liver size

There are two absolute contraindications 1:

  • excessive hepatopulmonary shunting (results in radiation pneumonitis)
  • demonstrable gastrointestinal shunting (results in gastric ulceration)
  • typically a trans-femoral intra-arterial catheter with the tip near the target lesion
  • nuclear medicine specialists prepare the radioactive (e.g. yttrium-90) microspheres (about 32 microns), which when injected are implanted in the microvascular arterial supply of the tumor where they become trapped

The spectrum of yttrium-90 is ~2.7 days, with no remaining radioactivity after on month.

Overall survival rate of almost 13 months with radio-embolisation. Mortality ranges from 0.6% to 6% at 30 and 90 days, respectively in high-risk groups. 

The most common adverse events are:

  • fatigue
  • nausea/vomiting
  • abdominal pain


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Article information

rID: 29905
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Radio-embolization
  • Radioembolisation
  • Radioembolization

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