Dosimetric comparison of metastatic spinal photon treatment techniques

Marvene M. Ewing, Samuel M. Carnes, Mark A. Henderson, Indra J. Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Traditional palliative treatment of metastatic cancer to the vertebral bodies often results in doses to the spinal cord that are higher than the dose prescribed to the target, or gross tumor volume (GTV). This study compares traditional techniques of spine palliation with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The purpose of the study is 2-fold: first, the study demonstrates the benefits of using IMRT to lower the dose to the organs at risk (OAR), particularly for the spinal cord and other nonspecified normal tissues; second, the article provides information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of commonly used conventional techniques for treating the vertebral bodies based on patient anatomy. Because the use of IMRT or other advanced techniques may be prohibitive because of insurance issues, treatment plans were created that compared optimal coverage vs. optimal sparing for single-field, wedged-pair, and opposed-beam arrangements. Fifty-five patients were selected and divided by location of target (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine) and also by the measured separation between the anterior and posterior surface of the patient at the level of mid-GTV. Within each anatomic category the patients again were divided into the categories of small, medium, and large based on separation. The patient dataset that most closely represented the average separation within each category was selected, resulting in a total of 9 patients, and the appropriate treatment plan techniques were calculated for each of the 9 patients. The results of the study do show that the use of IMRT is far superior when compared with other techniques, both for coverage and for sparing of the surrounding tissue, regardless of patient size and the section of spine being treated. Based on a combination of both target coverage and sparing of normal tissues, the conventional plan of choice may vary by both the section of spine to be treated and by the size of the patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-373
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Dosimetry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012


  • Dosimetry
  • IMRT
  • Spinal metastasis irradiation techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology

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