Scientific publications

Liver radioembolization using 90Y resin microspheres in elderly patients: tolerance and outcome.

Dec 1, 2010 | Magazine: Hospital Practice

Iñarrairaegui M (1), Bilbao JI, Rodríguez M, Benito A, Sangro B.


Yttrium 90 (90Y) microsphere radioembolization (90Y-RE) is an emerging locoregional treatment for liver cancer. The most common complications of 90Y-RE arise from excessive irradiation of nontarget organs (eg, gastrointestinal tract, lung, and nontumoral liver).

Patients with advanced age may have substantial comorbidities that can affect their life expectancy, and tolerance to radiation in elderly patients may be altered. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the safety and survival of elderly patients treated with 90Y-RE.


We analyzed 255 patients with liver tumors (primary or metastatic) who were treated with 90Y-RE in our institution from September 2003 to February 2010. We categorized patients as "elderly" if aged ≥ 70 years and "younger" if aged < 70 years.


Seventy-three patients (29%) were aged ≥ 70 years. The most frequent liver tumor among elderly patients was hepatocellular carcinoma. Complication rates were similar in both groups: 10.4% of elderly patients and 9.9% of younger patients developed radioembolization-induced liver disease (P = 1.000).

Only 1.5% of elderly patients developed gastrointestinal ulceration and no patient in the elderly group developed pneumonitis. The median overall survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma was similar in elderly and younger groups (13 months, 95% confidence interval [CI], 10.4-15.5 and 12 months, 95% CI, 4.2-15.7; P = 0.4). In patients with colorectal carcinoma metastatic to the liver, the median overall survival was 10 months (95% CI, 5.2-14.7) for elderly patients and 13 months (95% CI, 7.0-18.9) for younger patients (P = 0.3).

The median overall survival of patients with other histologies was 9 months (95% CI, 3.5-14.4) for younger patients and 4 months (95% CI, 2.7-5.2) for elderly patients (P = 0.9).


Elderly patients did not have more toxicity than younger patients treated with 90Y-RE, and survival was similar for each histology. Elderly patients should be considered for 90Y-RE if they otherwise meet the inclusion criteria applicable to younger patients.

CITATION  Hosp Pract (1995). 2010;38(3):103-9. doi: 10.3810/hp.2010.06.302.

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