Biliary sequelae following radioembolization with Yttrium-90 microspheres

J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2008 May;19(5):691-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2008.01.003. Epub 2008 Mar 17.


Purpose: Yttrium-90 (90Y) radioembolization has emerged as a promising and safe therapeutic modality for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or metastatic liver cancer. The present report describes biliary sequelae following intraarterial 90Y therapy in patients with HCC or liver metastases.

Materials and methods: All patients were treated with 90Y therapy according to standard lobar treatment protocol. Pre- and posttreatment imaging, liver function tests, and serum total bilirubin measurements were performed. Three to 6 months after treatment, biliary sequelae were evaluated with computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, and any liver-related laboratory adverse events were noted.

Results: A total of 327 patients (HCC, n=190; liver metastases, n=137) received 569 infusions of 90Y. At follow-up imaging, 33 patients (10.1%; liver metastases, n=26; HCC, n=7) had 40 imaging findings related to the biliary tree, including biliary necrosis (n=17), biloma (n=3), cholecystitis (n=2), gallbladder wall enhancement (n=6), gallbladder wall rent (n=3), abscess (n=1), and stricture (n=8). A total of 31 patients exhibited grade 3/4 bilirubin toxicities (13 [6.8%] with HCC, 18 [13.1%] with liver metastases). Unplanned interventions prompted by biliary sequelae were necessary in six of 327 patients (1.8%).

Conclusions: 90Y therapy in patients with HCC or metastatic disease to the liver is associated with an acceptable rate of biliary toxicities. Further studies assessing long-term biliary sequelae are warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Biliary Tract / radiation effects*
  • Bilirubin / analysis
  • Brachytherapy / adverse effects
  • Brachytherapy / methods*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Microspheres
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / adverse effects
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*


  • Yttrium Radioisotopes
  • Bilirubin