Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology vol:74 issue:3 pages:323-330
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: In 1990 the skin source measuring bridge was proposed as a tool to measure (1) the distance between the interstitial implant and the overlying skin during brachytherapy boost treatment as well as (2) the distances between the lateral source end and the exit point of the guide needle. The present study reports on the clinical experience using the source skin measuring bridge with respect to incidence and grade of teleangiectasia, and their relation to source skin distances and doses. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Two hundred and twenty-two breast cancer patients (229 breasts) treated between 1983 and 1996 with breast conserving therapy including a brachytherapy boost were scored on the occurrence of teleangiectasia. The minimum distance between the sources (above implant and laterally) and the skin surface were measured. RESULTS: If no bridge was used the appearance of teleangiectasia in the epiderm above the implant is 77, 63 and 50% for boost doses of 25, 20 and 15 Gy, respectively. For brachytherapy boost doses of 25 and 20 Gy and distances smaller than 10mm between the implant and the overlying epiderm, as determined with the skin source measuring bridge, the appearance of teleangiectasia was 78 and 46%, respectively. When respecting provisional dosimetry to spare the skin for a boost dose of 15 Gy, resulting in distances between 10 and 15 mm for the implant overlying skin and distances between 5 and 10 mm for the lateral skin, teleangiectasia can be reduced to a minimum (6.3% above and 3.3% laterally). While in a univariate analysis several parameters (use of the bridge, boost dose, boost modality, external beam therapy modality) were predictive factors, the use of the bridge remained the only significant variable in a multivariate analysis. CONCLUSIONS: The skin source measuring bridge reduces teleangiectasia after interstitial brachytherapy boost treatment. A hypothesis made previously relating teleangiectasia and source skin distances was verified and extended. Even when 3D planning is used, the bridge allows for a provisional calculation of the security margins between source positions and the skin at the time of BT implantation to assure a correct needle positioning from the beginning, instead of correcting dwell times later on to avoid unnecessary high skin doses.