Radioembolisation with micro spheres

"Radioembolization with Ytrium90 spheres is an effective alternative for those cases in which the liver houses several tumors and cannot be removed".

What is radioembolization with spheres?

Microsphere radioembolization is a novel treatment for inoperable liver tumors, both primary (hepatocarcinoma) and secondary.

It consists in the administration of radiation directly to the tumor, respecting the healthy liver. This radiation is emitted by microscopic radioactive spheres that are charged with Ytrium-90, a radiation emitting element of low penetration.

It is a complex treatment in whose design specialists in Oncology, Hepatology, Radiology and Nuclear Medicine participate.

We are a reference center at a European level in the administration of this treatment, with more than 350 treatments performed.

Each treatment is unique and personalized for each patient. Besides being indicated in hepatocarcinoma, it is also performed in liver metastases and other tumors such as colon cancer, breast cancer or neuroendocrine tumors.


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When is radioembolization indicated?

Most frequent indications of this treatment:

  • Hepatocarcinoma
  • Liver Metastases
  • Other tumors: colon cancer, breast cancer and neuroendocrine tumors

Radioembolization is a novel treatment for inoperable liver tumors (only in spanish).

Do you have any of these diseases?

You may need to have a bead radioembolization

How is radioembolization performed?

First, the vessels that irrigate the tumor are identified and a mock treatment with similar spheres not loaded with radiation is performed. The objective is to observe their behavior and make sure that they do not lodge in other organs where they could cause damage.

One or several weeks later, the actual treatment is performed. It consists of injecting microspheres loaded with the calculated radiation dose. Once these are lodged in the tumor tissue, they damage it by emitting radiation.

Both the simulation and the treatment require only a day and a half of hospitalization.

In general, the treatment does not produce more side effects than some pain after the procedure and, sometimes, some tiredness or lack of appetite in the following weeks.

The concrete benefits depend on:

  • Tumor type.
  • Degree of affectation.
  • Response to previous treatments.
  • Other individual factors of each patient.
  • In general, the aim is to slow down the growth of the disease and improve or maintain the quality of life.

In addition, reducing the size of the tumor, in some cases, allows it to be removed later by surgery.

The treatment of primary liver tumors by radioembolization with Ytrium 90 microspheres, when practiced on a partial volume, causes an increase in volume (hypertrophy) of the untreated healthy liver region.

This circumstance would allow surgical intervention in those cases in which it had been initially ruled out because the removal of the tumor would leave an insufficient volume of liver for the patient to survive.

This technique not only controls the disease very well, but it also allows the liver tissue still remaining in the liver without tumor to grow enough to consider surgical interventions that were initially impossible, increasing by 30% the patients in whom it would be possible to perform surgical resection of the tumor.

Occasionally, a small amount of microspheres may go to other parts of the body such as the gallbladder, stomach or lung.

If that were to happen, it could cause inflammation in those areas and it would be necessary to administer additional treatment.

Although it is a rare complication (5% of cases), the liver of certain people can be especially sensitive to the effect of radiation and hepatitis or jaundice can occur.

Where do we do it?


The Liver and Pancreatic Cancer Area
of the Cancer Center Clínica Universidad de Navarra

The Liver and Pancreas Cancer Area is a multidisciplinary area exclusively for the comprehensive approach of tumor pathology of the liver, pancreas and biliary tract, as well as living donor liver transplantation. 

Patient care will be coordinated by a single reference person who is an expert in these pathologies and who will be in charge of informing and coordinating consultations, tests, treatments, surgeries, etc., in less than 24 hours.

Diseases we treat

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • Integral evaluation of the patient.
  • Possibility of beginning personalized treatment 24 hours after the first consultation.
  • Minimally invasive surgery for the best recovery of patients.

Our team of professionals