The department of interventional radiology at McLaren Macomb in Mount Clemens now offers the internal radiation treatment procedure Y-90. The procedure treats liver metastases, or the development of secondary cancer tumors at a distance from a primary cancer site, and has been shown to extend patients’ life expectancies.
The treatment also has been shown to be safe and efficient. It uses yttrium-90, an isotope of the element yttrium, widely used in medical treatments. A first-line treatment, trials of the minimally invasive procedure have shown to increase patients’ overall survival by 8.3 months for those with treatment refractory metastatic colorectal cancer.
“For patients with liver cancer, this procedure has the capability of providing them with the invaluable benefit of time,” says Dr. Justin Stenz, an interventional radiologist at McLaren Macomb. “Y-90 can protect liver function and improve their quality of life and, in some cases, allow their form of cancer to respond to other treatment options. This is a great procedure to offer our patients.”
During the procedure, a small catheter is tunneled from the groin into the arteries supplying the liver tumors. Y-90 microspheres are delivered to the liver tumors. Radiation penetrates the tissue and destroys tumor cells while sparing health liver cells. The majority of the radiation is delivered in two weeks. After a month, virtually no radiation remains in the body.
In related news, the hospital also has expanded its services to include the TIPS procedure to reduce the effects of portal hypertension, a high blood pressure condition in the liver. Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is a minimally invasive procedure that crates a new blood vessel in the liver to relieve the pressure.
Cirrhosis can lead to high blood pressure in the veins that carry blood from the intestines to the liver. Known as portal hypertension, this condition can lead to a variety of complications including internal bleeding, enlarged veins, and fluid buildup in the abdomen.
“Cirrhosis and its resulting symptoms can cause ascites (fluid in the abdomen) and lead to other serious, potentially life-threatening conditions, such as esophageal varices,” says Stenz. “The TIPS procedure allows us to relieve the underlying condition, reducing the effects of their disease and significantly lowering the patient’s risk of those serious complications.”
The procedure is performed by an interventional radiologist by accessing the jugular vein in the neck and placing a catheter to the liver via the hepatic vein. A needle through the catheter creates a bypass from the liver’s hepatic vein to its portal vein. Expanded with a balloon, a shunt is positioned in the channel and secured with a stent into the portal vein.