Home > Patient Educational Videos > Radiology - What is Yttrium-90 Radioembolization?

What is Yttrium-90 Radioembolization?

Yttrium-90 microsphere radioembolization is an FDA approved, non-surgical procedure used to treat inoperable liver cancer and liver metastases. This innovative procedure delivers targeted, internal radiation therapy directly to the tumor.

With yttrium-90 microsphere radioembolization, a catheter is inserted through a tiny incision in the groin and threaded through the arteries until it reaches the hepatic artery. The hepatic artery is one of two blood vessels that feed the liver and the one that usually supplies blood to the tumors. Once the catheter is properly placed in the hepatic artery, millions of tiny beads, or microspheres, which contain the radioactive element yttrium-90, are released into the blood stream. These microspheres lodge into the smaller blood vessels that feed the tumor. In addition to preventing blood flow to the tumor, the microspheres emit radiation that destroys the cancerous cells. The radiation only penetrates approximately 1/16” of tissue, so very little healthy liver tissue is affected by the radiation.

Due to the targeted nature of this approach, it can deliver a much more potent dose of radiation than conventional radiation therapy. The radiation in the yttrium-90 continually decreases over a 2 week period, at which time the radiation is essentially gone.

With Yttrium-90 microsphere radioembolization the whole liver can be treated in one session in most cases. In some instances the right and left lobes of the liver may need to be treated separately, with one month between the treatments. A trial run and mapping procedure is performed one week before the administration of the actual treatment dose to block off vessels that go outside of the liver (e.g. to the stomach) and to perform a test dose to prove that the majority of the dose will stay in the liver and not pass through to the lungs.ne. The microspheres will remain in the liver without causing any complications. 

Here, Dr. Tony Talebi discusses the general concepts of what is Yttrium 90 Radioembolization with Dr. Jason Salsamendi, assistant professor of interventional radiology at the University of Miami.

Dr. Salsamendi credentials:

Assistant Professor Clinical Radiology

Board Certifications
American Board of Radiology-Diagnostic Radiology


New York University Medical Center
New York, NY USA
Fellowship - Vascular Interventional2010
Albert Einstein College of Medicine - Jacobi Medical Center
New York, NY USA
Mount Sinai School of Medicine - Queens Hospital Center
New York, NY USA
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Coral Gables, FL USA
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL USA