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Internal Radiation Therapy (Radioembolization, SIRT)


SIRT (Selective Internal Radiation Therapy) also known as radioembolization is a liver directed, outpatient radiation treatment for the management of inoperable offsite link liver tumors, from either primary liver cancer or the spread of colorectal cancer. No surgery is involved.

SIRT is an option for patients who are not candidates for surgical resection or ablation.

SIRT delivers millions of tiny radioactive microspheres (beads) called SIR-Spheres® directly to the liver tumor offsite link to cause tumor destruction.

SIR-Spheres are made of a biocompatible resin offsite link material. The SIR-Spheres microspheres or beads are very tiny (average size is 32 microns) about the diameter of a strand of human hair.

  • Each yttrium-90 microsphere offsite link is charged with which will penetrate the tumor tissue up to 11 millimeters.
  • SIR-Spheres preserve the blood vessels to allow for future therapies.
  • SIR-Spheres are the only FDA-approved microsphere offsite link for patients with inoperable metastatic colorectal cancer to the liver.

SIR-Spheres are administered by an interventional radiologist offsite link in the radiology suite.

  • Under local anesthesia, a small needle puncture is made in the groin area into the femoral artery offsite link. Then,
  • A small flexible guidewire offsite link is inserted and positioned into the artery where the microspheres will be delivered. Then,
  • A narrow tube, known as a catheter offsite link is then guided over the wire and positioned into the selected artery where the SIR-Spheres will be delivered to the tumors.

The entire procedure takes about 90 minutes. Patients will be sleepy during the procedure, but able to communicate with the doctor and the team.

Clinical research documents that the advantage of radioembolization therapy is that microspheres provide an improvement in liver tumor control by shrinking the tumor and delaying progression offsite link in the liver when used in combination with chemotherapy or alone,.

Side Effects:

  • Many patients experience nausea and pain which normally subside in a short time after the procedure. Nausea and pain are usually treated with routine medications.
  • Patients may also develop a mild fever that may last up to one week
  • Patients may develop fatigue which can last several weeks.
  • Major complications are rare but may include small number of microspheres inadvertently reaching other organs in the body, such as the stomach, intestine or pancreas.
  • For information about dealing with pain, nausea and fatigue, see the documents in “To Learn More.”

Recovery: Most patients return home four to six hours following treatment. 

For additional questions about this procedure, click here offsite link.

For additional information about radiation treatment see:

To Learn More

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