Article Case Review Year 2009

Extra-corporeal liver BNCT for the treatment of diffuse metastases: What was learned and what is still to be learned

Applied Radiation and Isotopes, 2009

Authors:   A. Zonta, T. Pinelli, U. Prati, L. Roveda, C. Ferrari, A. Clerici, C. Zonta, G. Mazzini, P. Dionigi, S. Altieri, S. Bortolussi, P. Bruschi, F. Fossati
Journal: Applied Radiation and Isotopes
Abstract: Almost eight years ago, in December 2001, we performed for the first time in the world thermal neutron irradiation on an isolated liver of a patient. The organ was affected by diffuse metastases of a colon carcinoma and had been previously loaded with a 10B compound. In July 2003, the same procedure was applied again on a patient for the treatment of unresectable and incurable hepatic metastases of a carcinoma of the rectum. Both patients are dead at present. Now we can analyze in depth the clinical history of these patients and evaluate the effectiveness of this therapy. From this exciting experience we learned much, and we also found out about complications till then unknown, which need to be studied and addressed experimentally. Unfortunately we can base our conclusions just on the experience we had with these two patients. We could have been much more detailed and firm in our statements if the number of clinical cases was larger. The BNCT Pavia project has been suspended, but it is more than likely to resume in a short time. Good findings were many. The procedure is feasible; the original concept of complete immersion of the diseased liver in a homogeneous neutron field proved effective and winning. The tumor masses resulted completely necrotic and unknown metastases too appeared radically treated; healthy hepatic tissue was preserved from both morphological and functional points of view; no symptoms of cirrhosis appeared even four years after treatment. For the long term surviving patient, quality of life was excellent. Other findings require to be tackled in depth. The “post-irradiation syndrome” we observed in both patients, with identical symptoms and biochemical derangements, creates a dramatic-even though totally reversible-clinical condition, that is the probable cause of death for our second patient, suffering from cardiomyopathy, 33 days after treatment. For the first patient, recurrences were a late yet fatal complication, for which even a further surgical revision was ineffective. We offer some hypotheses about their origin and possible prevention. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.