Safety and efficacy of radioembolization with glass microspheres in hepatocellular carcinoma patients with elevated lung shunt fraction: analysis of a 103-patient cohort

Arighno Das, Ahsun Riaz, Ahmed Gabr, Rehan Ali, Ronald Mora, Ali Al Asadi, Samdeep Mouli, Robert J. Lewandowski, Riad Salem*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Technetium-99m macroaggregated albumin is used to estimate lung shunt fraction (LSF) prior to yttrium-90 (Y90). Studies have debated the safety and efficacy of Y90 in patients with LSF > 15%. We aimed to assess the role of Y90 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with LSF > 15%. Methods: With IRB approval, we searched our prospectively acquired database of HCC patients with Y90 treated with LSF > 15%. Median LSF and liver and lung doses were calculated. The response was assessed using RECIST. Overall survival (OS) was calculated from date of first Y90. Results: A total of 103 HCC patients underwent Y90. The median baseline LSF was 24.4% (IQR 18.1–28.8). Patients exhibited multifocal disease (59/103, 60%) and median tumor size of 7.85 cm (IQR 5.2, 10.57). BCLC class was A, B, C, and D in 7 (7%), 5 (5%), 85 (83%), and 6 (6%) patients, respectively. The median liver dose was 84.6 Gy (IQR 57.4, 107.55). The median lung dose per session and cumulatively was 22.9 Gy (IQR 15–28) and 29.5 Gy (IQR 20.5–44.3). Thirty-three patients (32%) demonstrated partial response, 57 stable disease, and 13 (13%) had progressive disease. The median OS was 7.3 months (95% CI 5.3, 11.47). Twenty patients (19%) had non-specific pulmonary symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, wheezing) in the 1-year post-Y90. The median time to the appearance of non-specific pulmonary symptoms was 63 days (range 7–224). Thoracic imaging demonstrated no pulmonary fibrosis/injury following treatment in any patient. Conclusion: Y90 can be performed in patients with LSF > 15%. The RECIST response was identified in 32% of the patients. In isolation, LSF > 15% should not deter from treatment with Y90.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-815
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020



  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
  • Lung shunt fraction (LSF)
  • Radioembolization
  • TARE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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