Liver cancer or hepatic cancer is a cancer that originates in the liver. It is formed from either the liver itself or from structures within the liver, including blood vessels or the bile duct. Liver cancer can be a life-threatening condition, but it may be cured if found early. Hepatic artery embolization is one of the treatment options involving the injection of substances to reduce the blood flow to cancer cells in the livers of patients with tumors that cannot be removed by surgery; however, this treatment has some limitations. In this paper, we propose a novel nitinol "spherical occlusion device" concept, the first of its kind in the world. Our proposed spherical occlusion device is able to reduce the blood flow to cancer cells by deploying it in the upstream hepatic artery supplying blood to the liver. Moreover, it could carry multiple chemotherapy or radioactive drugs for delivery directly to the target site. Nitinol alloy was chosen as the device material due to its excellent super-elastic property. Computational models were developed to predict the mechanical response of the device during manufacturing and deployment procedures, as well as its hemodynamic behavior. Simulation results showed that the presence of the spherical occlusion device with 14%-27% metal density deployed at the upstream location of the right hepatic artery had significant occlusion effects, with the average blood flow rate cut down by 30%-50%. A pulsed fiber laser and a series of expansions and heat treatments were developed to make the first prototype of the spherical occlusion device for the demonstration of our novel concept.
Keywords: hepatic artery embolization; liver cancer; nitinol alloy; spherical occlusion device.