Yttrium-90 microsphere therapy for hepatic malignancy: devices, indications, technical considerations, and potential complications

Radiographics. 2005 Oct;25 Suppl 1:S41-55. doi: 10.1148/rg.25si055515.


Management of hepatic malignancies is a ubiquitous medical problem. Surgical resection of primary or metastatic liver cancer, with or without adjuvant chemotherapy, is the most effective method for enhancing survival; however, hepatic malignancies in the vast majority of patients are unresectable both at initial manifestation and at recurrence. In these patients, palliative cytoreductive therapies may help to retard tumor progression and therefore favorably alter the course of the disease. Since hepatic neoplasms are principally supplied by the hepatic artery, various arterially delivered cytotoxic agents have been developed to achieve these objectives. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved the transarterial administration of yttrium-90 microspheres for liver-directed therapy. Effective use of these devices requires knowledge of the accumulated clinical experience and a dedicated multidisciplinary effort to ensure optimal outcomes and avoid therapy-specific life-threatening complications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Drug Carriers*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Male
  • Microspheres
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Radiotherapy / instrumentation
  • Radiotherapy / methods
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / administration & dosage*
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / adverse effects


  • Drug Carriers
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes