Radioembolization with Yttrium 90

There are two types of liver cancer: those arising from the liver, called hepatocellular cancers, and those arising from other organs and spreading to the liver, called metastatic disease. Yttrium 90-radio embolization is a specialized treatment delivering radiation-laden beads directly into the liver tumor through a small tube navigated through the blood vessels of the liver.

Radioembolization is a 3-part procedure performed on an outpatient basis on 3 separate days. The first part is an angiogram for mapping out the blood vessels supplying the liver and blocking off blood vessels supplying tissues outside the liver to prevent radiation beads from causing damage to other organs. A test is also performed on the first day to evaluate the estimated radiation exposure to the lungs during radioembolization. The first two procedures are separated by a week or so. The actual radiation dose is given on the second and third days. Usually one half of the liver (either the right or left lobe) is treated on day two and the other half of the liver is treated on day three. The second and third procedures are separated by up to a month.

Radioembolization Procedure

The procedures is performed with light sedation which requires that you not eat a meal for eight hours before the procedure. Most medications can be taken the morning of the procedure except for medications that affect blood clotting (aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, Coumadin, etc). If you are taking one of these medications, you may need to stop taking it or be switched to another medicine for a few days before the procedure. This will be coordinated by your doctor if necessary.

What to Expect Following Radioembolization Procedure

After the procedure, you should expect to spend 2-4 hours in the hospital to manage your post procedure pain with IV pain medicine, if needed. Most patients go home the same day. Patients sometimes complain of mild upper abdominal pain and fatigue, which can last for a week. Most of the patients are able to resume normal activities within 1 week.

How We're Different

The decisions for managing these cancers are difficult. There are many treatment options, and each situation is unique. At UTSW, a multidisciplinary conference consisting of a team of experts including medical oncologists, surgical oncologist, transplant surgeons, interventional radiologists, and radiation oncologists share their expertise at managing cancers in the liver. The interventional radiologists who have advanced training in minimally invasive treatments perform the procedure. We believe in collaborative care and that teamwork is the most benefit to our patients. Yttrium 90 treatments have been offered at UTSW for nearly a decade, and our physicians are vastly experienced in this treatment modality.

Request an Appointment

To meet with an interventional radiologist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas, or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.