Computed tomography-guided brachytherapy for liver cancer

Semin Radiat Oncol. 2011 Oct;21(4):287-93. doi: 10.1016/j.semradonc.2011.05.005.


Limitations of thermal liver cancer ablation have led to the development of percutaneous, catheter-based brachytherapy for the treatment of liver malignancies. Computed tomography (CT)-guided brachytherapy has been used to treat primary and metastatic liver cancers, including very large tumors >10 cm. Cooling effects by adjacent blood vessels are not a concern in brachytherapy, and the method may be used safely in tumors unsuitable for thermal ablation that are close to the liver hilum due to the relatively high radiation tolerance of bile duct. CT scanning is used for dosimetry planning after catheter implantation and also to guide the catheter placement itself. Major complications, including postinterventional bleeding, are rare despite frequent application of this technique in a salvage situation. Patients with liver cirrhosis have an increased risk for complications. Prospective trials of CT-guided brachytherapy have been performed with promising survival rates for liver metastases and hepatocellular carcinoma, respectively. In this article, the radiobiological and technical properties of CT-guided brachytherapy, appropriate patients for treatment, and prospective trials that have been published to date are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brachytherapy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiotherapy, Computer-Assisted
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed