Advanced Technology and Treatments for Liver Conditions

Many new technologies and treatments are helping patients with liver disease live longer and healthier.

 

New drug research is helping people with Hep C, the leading cause of Chirrosis (scarring of the liver that prohibits the organ's normal functions and often leads to cancer), find a cure. A decade ago, only one in 20 were cured from Hep C, while today, the cure rate is one in two.

New technologies have meanwhile also helped treat liver cancer from within to prolong quality of life.

Microspheres

TheraSpheres and SirSpheres are two variations of cancer treatments developed in the last few years and are referred to as radioembolization.

Radiation particles "piggyback" on beads the size of a grain of sand (30 microns) as they carry radiation to the tumor. The radiation is known as Yttrium 90 and will slowly emit radiation to treat the tumor over 2-3 weeks. The microspheres lodge themselves in the small capillaries in the liver, or preferentially accumulate in the tumor, and the normal liver tissue is spared. Once the beads are lodged in the tumor, they can then emit their radioactivity and kill the tumor from the inside.

Microspheres are used depending on the size, type and location of the tumor and can only be applied in patients with good liver function. Because the tumors need an arterial blood supply to grow, the microspheres are administered through an angiographic catheter in the femoral artery - a procedure done by an interventional radiologist.

 

TheraSpheres SirSpheres
Are used for primary liver cancers Are used for metastasized tumors (other cancers that migrate to the liver)
Carry more radiation - known as being "hotter" - so a smaller amount of beads are applied (e.g. 1 million) Carry less radiation and more beads are used (e.g. 40 million)
Was the first interventional radiology treatment developed for treating mets in the liver

In March 2002 in Phoenix, interventional radiologist Charles Nutting, DO, performed the first application of SirSpheres. SirSpheres are especially useful in patients who have become unresponsive to chemotherapy - e.g. chemo refractory - and when a liver resection is not an option.

LC Bead chemotherapy treatment

The LC Bead is a new generation in embolic technology using low compression microspheres that are negatively charged to adhere chemo agents at the site of the tumor. As a treatment for primary liver cancer, LC Beads are administered as off-label or investigational use.

Both microspheres and the LC Bead are applied through a small, flexible catheter inserted through the femoral artery from a needle in the patient's groin. Interventional radiologists use x-ray guidance to snake the catheter into one of the major liver blood vessels and then into the branch that supplies the cancerous tumor. These treatments are often completed as an outpatient procedure, allowing a patient to return home typically the same day or next day.