Radioembolization, also called selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), is a novel technique for the treatment of liver tumours. During the procedure, radioactive microspheres are injected into the liver artery that supplies the tumours. This way, the tumours receive a high local dose of radiation. Although the technique has already been incorporated in clinical practice, optimization of the procedure itself may lead to improved patient outcome and a broader spectrum of clinical applications for the treatment. Our group is particularly interested in radioembolization with microspheres based on the radionuclide holmium-166, as its paramagnetic properties allow for visualization and quantification with MRI. This can be used to gain more insight in the fundamentals of the radioembolization technique, which is a requirement for improvement of the procedure itself.
In a preclinical setting, radioembolization will be studied in liver phantoms, ex vivo porcine livers and in surgically resected livers with tumours. These livers will be perfused using a heart-lung machine, during which holmium microspheres are administered, in order to study the distribution of the microspheres. In the near future, a clinical study will start in which the administration of holmium microspheres will be imaged with real time MRI, in patients receiving radioembolization. This will partially take place at the Medical Innovation & Technology expert Center (MITeC). Based at the real time imaging of the procedure, the radiologist may be able to adjust the distribution of microspheres in such a way that all liver tumours receive an optimal dose of microspheres and healthy tissue will be spared as much as possible from radioactivity