Liver transplants after transarterial radioembolization (TARE) performed for the first time in Sicily, at ISMETT

The first two liver transplants on patients with an initially advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, treated with transarterial radioembolization (TARE), were performed at IRCCS ISMETT in Palermo, Italy. These are the first procedures of this kind ever performed in Sicily. The TARE procedure, performed before the transplant, allowed the two patients to benefit from a therapeutic option they would otherwise not have been eligible for.

“Both patients,” said Dr. Salvatore Gruttadauria, Director of the ISMETT’s Department for the Treatment and Study of Abdominal Diseases and Abdominal Transplantation, “are alive, free from cancer, and in good general conditions. We were able to accomplish this thanks to the collaboration between two multidisciplinary teams from two Sicilian centers of excellence.”

The procedures were performed on patients with a primary tumor. Due to the size of the tumor mass, the two patients were initially denied the option of a transplant. TARE is a nuclear medicine procedure of metabolic radiotherapy: it involves administering yttrium-90 radioactive microspheres directly in the hepatic artery and in the tumor vessels through an arterial access. The TARE successfully reduced the vital part of the tumor mass making it possible for the patients to undergo a transplant.

“This mini-invasive technique,” explained Dr. Roberto Virdone, hepatologist at Villa Sofia-Cervello Hospital in Palermo, “allows to treat tumors targeting radiations directly to the tumor, while limiting the exposure of healthy tissues and reducing the risk of tissue damage and the side effects for the patients.”

The members of Villa Sofia-Cervello Hospital team were: Mario Cottone (Director) and Roberto Virdone, Department of Internal Medicine 2 – Hepatic Oncology; Francesco Verderame, Director, Department of Medical Oncology; Franco Valenza, Department of Radiodiagnostics; Antonio Moreci (Director) and Salvatore Ialuna, Department of Nuclear Medicine; Daniele Scalisi, Medical Physicist.