Radioembolization with 90Y glass microspheres for hepatocellular carcinoma: significance of pretreatment 11C-acetate and 18F-FDG PET/CT and posttreatment 90Y PET/CT in individualized dose prescription

  • Chi Lai HoEmail author
  • Sirong Chen
  • Shing Kee Cheung
  • Yim Lung Leung
  • Kam Chau Cheng
  • Ka Nin Wong
  • Yuet Hung Wong
  • Thomas Wai Tong Leung
Original Article



The aim of this study was to establish an algorithm for the prescription of 90Y glass microsphere radioembolization (90Y-GMRE) of HCC in individual patients based on the relationship between tumour dose (TD) and response validated by 90Y PET/CT dosimetry and dual-tracer PET/CT metabolic parameters.


The study group comprised 62 HCC patients prospectively recruited for 90Y-GMRE who underwent pretreatment dual-tracer (11C-acetate and 18F-FDG) PET/CT as surrogate markers of HCC cellular differentiation. Pretreatment tumour-to-nontumour ratio on 99mTc-MAA SPECT/CT (T/NTMAA) was correlated with posttreatment 90Y PET/CT T/NT90Y after quantification validation. The TD–response relationship for HCC of different tracer groups was assessed on follow-up PET/CT 2 months after treatment.


90Y PET/CT was accurate in the measurement of recovery of injected 90Y activity (81.9–99.9%, median 94.8%). Pretreatment SPECT/CT T/NTMAA was strongly correlated with posttreatment 90Y PET/CT T/NT90Y (5.6 ± 3.2 versus 5.9 ± 3.5, T/NT90Y 1.01 × T/NTMAA + 0.161, r = 0.918, P < 0.05). The response rates were 72.4% (21/29), 70.6% (12/17) and 25% (4/16) for well, moderately and poorly differentiated HCC, respectively. The cut-off TD for a good response was significantly different between poorly differentiated and well/moderately differentiated HCC (262 Gy versus 152/174 Gy) with 89.2% sensitivity and 88% specificity. At a limiting tolerated liver dose of 70 Gy, the T/NTMAA thresholds for predicting a good response in poorly differentiated and well/moderately differentiated HCC were 3.5 and 2.0/2.3. Disregarding HCC cellular differentiation, the cut-off TD became 170 Gy, with lower sensitivity (70.3%) and specificity (76%).


90Y PET/CT can provide accurate dosimetry for 90Y-GMRE. Pretreatment T/NTMAA predicts posttreatment T/NT90Y. The TD thresholds for a good response are tracer-dependent, with a strong correlation between HCC radiosensitivity and cellular differentiation and other PET-based parameters. These cytokinetic factors improve treatment efficacy while minimizing organ damage for the prescription of personalized 90Y-GMRE.


90Y glass microspheres Radioembolization Dosimetry HCC Tumour grade PET/CT 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest


Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the principles of the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

All patients provided signed informed consent for the treatment, and the treatment was not experimental.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nuclear Medicine & PETHong Kong Sanatorium & HospitalHong KongHong Kong
  2. 2.Medical Physics & Research DepartmentHong Kong Sanatorium & HospitalHong KongHong Kong
  3. 3.Comprehensive Oncology CenterHong Kong Sanatorium & HospitalHong KongHong Kong

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