Hepatocellular carcinoma and liver cirrhosis: assessment of the liver function after Yttrium-90 radioembolization with resin microspheres or after CT-guided high-dose-rate brachytherapy

Dig Dis. 2009;27(2):189-99. doi: 10.1159/000218352. Epub 2009 Jun 22.


Purpose: To identify changes of liver function after single-fraction irradiation or yttrium-90 radioembolization ((90)Y-RE) of hepatocellular carcinoma associated with liver cirrhosis on the basis of laboratory data.

Methods and materials: 24 patients with primary liver carcinoma and liver cirrhosis classified Child-Pugh A or B were treated either by image-guided high-dose-rate brachytherapy (HDR-BT) (12 patients) or by (90)Y-RE (12 patients). The following laboratory parameters were assessed 1 day before and 3 days, 6 weeks and 3 months after the intervention: total bilirubin and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGTP) as parameters of detoxification function, albumin and cholinesterase (ChE) as direct synthesis parameters, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (AP) as indicators of liver tissue damage. Preinterventional values were taken as baseline, following values were calculated as percentage changes from the baseline value. Statistical analysis was performed using the Wilcoxon-matched pairs test, comparing postinterventional with preinterventional values. Differences were considered statistically significant with a p value <0.05.

Results: In all patients the median bilirubin, ALT, AP and albumin values remained within normal limits at any time of follow-up. AST levels in the RE group and GGTP in both groups have been already elevated over a normal range before the intervention, and in both groups both parameters showed a slight increase after interventions. ChE activity was lowered already in the baseline values and showed a further decrease 3 days after BT as well as 3 days and 6 weeks after RE, with final reconstitution to baseline values. All liver function test parameters showed mild changes shortly after radiation therapy but floating laboratory values recovering within 12 weeks to baseline values. Radiation or RE-induced liver disease was recorded in no patient.

Conclusions: Liver function parameters show only mild changes shortly after intervention with recovery within 6-12 weeks to baseline values.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Albumins / metabolism
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Brachytherapy*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / blood
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / complications
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / radiotherapy*
  • Cholinesterases / blood
  • Embolization, Therapeutic*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / radiation effects*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Male
  • Microspheres
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Albumins
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Cholinesterases
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Bilirubin