Radioembolization is a minimally invasive way of delivering therapeutic radiation to liver tumors, while minimizing the amount of radiation delivered to normal healthy liver. It is usually used when there are multiple tumors in the liver, or when the tumor is too large to be treated by surgical removal, thermal ablation or external radiation.
Radioembolization can be used in combination with chemotherapy for more effective treatment. The source of radiation, Yttrium-90 (Y90), is baked into tiny resin beads, which are then delivered to the tumors through a catheter placed in the hepatic artery, which is the source of blood flow to the tumors. By contrast, normal healthy liver gets its blood mostly from the portal vein, and is therefore spared by the radiation. Side effects are generally minimal, and patients go home within hours after the procedure.
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