About the procedure
Radioembolization is generally considered safer than other forms of radiation therapy because the radioactive beads remain in the tumors, blocking blood flow, shrinking it, and without exposing the rest of the body to the radiation. Healthy tissue in other areas of the liver suffers minimal damage from the radioembolization because of the precise positioning of the particles themselves. As a result, there are far fewer side effects from the radiation. Over a period of about a month, the radiation in spheres is depleted, and any leftover particles can be left in place safely.
Radioembolization is primarily used to treat cancers of the liver that have metastasized from other locations in the body, especially the colon. It can be used in conjunction with other therapies (such as surgery or chemotherapy), and can be used to shrink large tumors to allow for surgical removal. As with other forms of embolization, this therapy is not appropriate for patients with severe liver disease or who have blocked or abnormal blood flow between the liver and lungs. This procedure is performed on two separate procedure days.
What to expect
Next, during the first procedure day, the interventional radiologist will map your liver anatomy to identify arteries that may be feeding the tumors. They also look for small arteries near the tumors that may lead to the stomach or intestines, and if they are present they block these arteries to keep radiation from reaching these organs. Finally, they inject macro aggregated albumin (MAA) particles into your liver to trace where the particles go, and a scan is performed to make sure they stay in the liver and internal to the tumors being treated.
This mapping procedure is scheduled several days prior to the actual radioembolization or treatment procedure. In the second procedure, the catheter is placed directly into the liver artery and treatment is performed. A follow-up scan will be performed to confirm the treatment was directly delivered into the tumors. Each of these treatments takes 45-120 minutes.
After each treatment, the catheter in your groin is removed and you will be asked to lie flat for a while. You may experience some nausea, fever, or pain after the procedure and for the next few days.
After your release from the hospital you should avoid driving for 24 hours, limit your activities, and avoid physical exertion or heavy lifting for several days. Full recovery usually takes 7 to 10 days. Follow-up exams are performed to evaluate the treatment results. Because only one lobe of the liver can be treated at the same time with radioembolization, if you have tumors in both lobes of your liver you may need a second round of treatment, usually a month a part.
For more information on Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) for liver tumors using SIR-Spheres microspheres, please download the Patient Guide brochure below:
Getting the best interventional radiology care possible
Whatever form your cancer has taken, you can count on receiving the best liver cancer treatment in Dallas from the specialists at MTV IR. We work closely with oncologists, surgical oncologists, and other doctors in the area to provide the state-of-the-art liver cancer treatments they need.