What is Radioembolization?

Radioembolization, or selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiation to treat liver tumors. By targeting the hepatic artery, or the main blood vessel that supplies the liver, radioembolization can cut off the blood supply to liver tumors. The tumors shrink, and minimal damage is done to healthy tissue. Radioembolization is a treatment option for tumors that cannot be removed by surgery or other radiation therapies, for liver cancer that is confined to the liver, or for liver cancer patients that have more than 3 months of life expectancy.

To perform radioembolization, a catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin and threaded to the liver. Radioactive beads, or pellets, are delivered through the catheter. The pellets will continuously deliver radiation for 10-14 days. The pellets will remain in the body permanently without causing any complications. If the tumor or cancer is confined to one portion of the liver, radioembolization will be performed in one treatment session. If both sides of the liver are affected, a second treatment session will be done about 8 weeks after the first.

Typically, most patients can return home and do light activity within hours following the procedure. You will be given medication to treat any possible side effects, which can include nausea, fever, abdominal pain, or tiredness.