Article Text

Download PDFPDF

397 Intra-tumor immunotherapy injections utilizing image guidance in interventional radiology: clinical trial experience at a tertiary care cancer center
  1. Ravi Murthy,
  2. Rahul Sheth,
  3. Alda Tam,
  4. Sanjay Gupta,
  5. Vivek Subbiah,
  6. Filip Janku,
  7. Timothy Yap,
  8. Adi Diab,
  9. Aung Naing,
  10. Sapna Patel and
  11. Funda Meric-Bernstam
  1. MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA


Background Image guided intra-tumor administration of investigational immunotherapeutic agents represents an expanding field of interest. We present a retrospective review of the safety, feasibility & technical nuances of real-time image guidance for injection & biopsy across a spectrum of extracranial solid malignancies utilizing the discipline of Interventional Radiology.

Methods Patients who were enrolled in image guided intratumoral immunotherapy injection (ITITI) clinical trials over a 6 year period (2013–19) at a single tertiary care cancer center were included in this analysis. Malignancy, location, imaging guidance utilized for ITITI & biopsy for injected (adscopal) & non-injected (abscopal) lesions were determined and categorized. Peri-procedural adverse events were noted.

Results 262 pts (146 female, 61 yrs median) participating in 29 immunotherapeutic clinical trials (TLR & STING agonists, gene therapy, anti CD-40, viral/bacterial/metabolic oncolytics) met study criteria. Malignancies included melanoma 88, sarcoma 32, colorectal 29, breast 23, lung 17, head & neck 15, ovarian 8, neuroendocrine 7, pancreatic adenocarcinoma 6, 3 each (cholangioCA, endometrial, bladder, GI tract), 2 each (RCC, thymicCA, lymphoma, merkel cell, prostate) & others 1 each (CUP, GIST, dermatofibrosarcoma, DSRT, neuroblastoma, thyroid). All 169 & 93 patients received the intended 1371 ITITI in parietal (abdominal/chest wall, extremity, neck, pelvis) or visceral (liver, lung, peritoneum, adrenal) locations respectively; 83 patients received lymph node injections within either location. Imaging guidance was US in 68% of the cohort (US 161, CT+US 19); CT was used in 30% (81) & MRI in 1 patient. Median diameter of the ITITI lesion was 32 mm (8–230 mm). Median volume of the ITITI therapeutic material/session was 2 ml (1–6.9 ml). Lesions were accessed using a coaxial technique. ITITI delivery needles used at operator preference & tailored to lesion characteristics were either a 21G/22G Chiba, 21G Profusion (Cook Medical), 22G Morrison (AprioMed), 25G hypodermic (BD) & 18G Quadrafuse (Rex Medical). 2840 core biopsies (>18G Tru-cut core, Mission, Bard Medical) were performed in 237 patients during 690 procedures; biopsy sessions were often concurrent & of the ITITI site. 137 patients also underwent biopsy of a non-ITITI site (89 parietal location). Dimensions of the non-ITITI lesion were median 10 mm (7–113 mm); US image guidance was used in 97 patients (72%) to obtain a total of 1257, >18G Tru-core samples. 1.3% of injections resulted in SAE (NCI CTC AE >3) and 0.5% of 4097 biopsies developed major complications (SIR Criteria); both categories were manageable.

Conclusions Utilizing real time image guidance, ITITI to the administration of a myriad of investigational immunotherapeutic agents with concomitant biopsy procedures to date are associated with a high technical success rate & favorable safety profile.

Acknowledgements Joshua Hein, Mara Castaneda, Jyotsna Pera, Yunfang Jiang,Shuang Liu, Holly Liu and Anna Lui

Trial Registration N/A

Ethics Approval The study was approved by Institution’s Ethics Board, approval number 2020-0536: A retrospective study to determine the safety, feasibility and technical challenges of real-time image guidance for intra-tumor injection and biopsy across multiple solid tumors.

Consent 2020-0536 Waiver of Informed Consent


  1. Sheth RA, Murthy R, Hong DS, et al. Assessment of image-guided intratumoral delivery of immunotherapeutics in patients with cancer. JAMA Netw Open 2020;3(7):e207911. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.7911

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.