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General Information:

Yttrium-90 (Y-90) Selective Internal Radiation Therapy

Minimally Invasive Internal Radiation to Treat Liver Cancer

Y-90 Radioembolization

Minimally Invasive Internal Radiation to Treat Liver Cancer

What is Y-90
Radiation Therapy?

Y-90 radiation is an established treatment for liver tumors. This method delivers millions of beads containing the radioactive isotope Y-90 into the liver through the hepatic artery, where they target liver tumors.  Y-90 emits beta radiation with an average depth of penetration of 2.5 mm in tissue, destroying tumor while largely sparing healthy liver.

Y-90 internal radiation therapy can deliver doses 40x higher than external beam radiation.  Approximately 30 to 60 million microspheres per treatment allows for a uniform distribution of radiation to treat multiple tumors or primary liver cancer. 

How Does It Work?

The radioactive beads are injected directly into target vessels through a small microcatheter. These beads release nearly all of their radiation within 11 days and then remain harmlessly in the liver. The targeted radiation kills cancer cells while doing minimal damage to healthy cells, causing tumors to shrink with few side effects. 

What Are the Steps in the Process?

Step 1: Mapping Angiogram (1 to 2 Hours)

The doctor will have you lie on an X-ray table and apply anesthetic to your skin.  

The doctor will use a catheter to enter an artery in your wrist or groin and guide it to the arteries in your liver. The x-ray imaging will allow them to guide it properly.

Pictures will be taken via x-ray angiograms to help the doctor see the blood flowing to your liver. 
The doctor will block blood vessels that don’t need Y-90 radiation treatment with small coils or metal wires. They will then inject a harmless tracer agent and track the percentage of radiation that shunts through your liver.

Step 2: Infusion of Y-90
(1 Hour)

Your dosage will be calculated and delivered to the hospital.  About a week later, you will receive your teatment. 

The same process will take place as the mapping angiogram. However, instead of injecting a tracer, the Y-90 beads will slowly be injected.

Step 3: further Infusion of Y-90, If Needed (1 Hour)

Often, only part of the liver will be treated in step 2. If another part of your liver requires treatment, you will receive another Y-90 dose about four to six weeks later.

Step 4: MRI or CT Scan
(10 Minutes to 1 Hour)

Your doctor will perform scans to track how well the treatment has been working. At this stage, your doctor will decide if other treatments are necessary. They will review your blood test results, scans, and general health to guide the next steps in your treatment.

What Are the Side Effects of Y-90?

Fatigue sometimes occurs, and it can last up to a week. It is usually mild.

Uncommon Side Effects Include:

  • Nausea
  • Low Fever
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Abdominal pain

    More serious side effects can happen, but they are rare.  Ask your doctor about them before you begin treatment.

Why Choose Lourdes: Virtua Health System?

Our interventional radiologists have extensive skill and experience treating patients with Y-90.  We collaborate with our Hepatology colleagues to tailor the best treatment plan for each patient. 

Please call 856-968-2520 to schedule a consultation with one of our interventional radiologists.

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