Y-90 microsphere therapy: prevention of adverse events

Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2009 Aug;24(4):427-33. doi: 10.1089/cbr.2008.0595.


Objective: Thirty-three (33) events that were inconsistent with intended treatment for 471 Y-90 microsphere deliveries were analyzed from 2001 to 2007.

Method: Each occurrence was categorized, based on root-cause analysis, as a device/product defect and/or operator error event. Events were further categorized, if there was an adverse outcome, as spill/leak, termination, recatheterization, dose deviation, and/or a regulatory medical event.

Results: Of 264 Y-90 Therasphere (MDS Nordion, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) treatments, 15 events were reported (5.7%). Of 207 Y-90 SIR-Spheres (Sirtex, Wilmington, MA) treatments, 18 events were reported (8.7%). Twenty-five (25) of 33 events (76%) were device/product defects: 73% for Therasphere (11 of 15) and 78% for SIR-Spheres (14 of 18). There were 31 adverse outcomes associated with 33 events: 15 were leaks and/or spills, 9 resulted in termination of the dose administration, 3 resulted in recatheterization for dose compensation, 2 were dose deviations (doses differing from the prescribed between 10% and 20%), and 2 were reported as regulatory medical events. Fifty-five (55) corrective actions were taken: 39 (71%) were related to the manufacturer and 16 (29%) were hospital based.

Conclusions: This process of analyzing each event and measuring our outcomes has been effective at minimizing adverse events and improving patient safety.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / radiotherapy
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Microspheres
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / administration & dosage*
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / adverse effects*


  • Yttrium Radioisotopes