An ultrasound system for simultaneous ultrasound hyperthermia and photon beam irradiation

William L. Straube, Eduardo G. Moros, Daniel A. Low, Eric E. Klein, Virgil M. Willcut, Robert J. Myerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Purpose: An existing ultrasound system has been adapted for simultaneous use with external photon beam irradiation. The system is being used to investigate the potential for increased biological benefit of simultaneously combined hyperthermia and external beam irradiation with currently achievable temperature distributions. Methods and Materials: An existing clinical ultrasound system has been modified fur simultaneous operation with a 60Co teletherapy machine. The generator, thermometry system, computer, and applicators are located inside the treatment room, while the monitor and system control are located at the control console. Two approaches have been used clinically to combine the two modalities. In the first approach, an en- face setup is used in which the ultrasound beam and the photon beam travel through the same window of entry to the tumor. This is achieved by a reflecting system designed to deflect the ultrasound to the tumor while positioning the ultrasound transducer outside the radiation beam. The reflecting system consists of water and water-equivalent materials except for a 1 mm sheet of polished brass that is used as the reflector. The relative pressure fields were measured in water at the same distance from the ultrasound source using a scanning hydrophone with and without the reflector at the two operating frequencies of the device (1.0 and 3.4 MHz) for two applicators. Radiation dosimetry measurements were performed to determine the relationship between 60Co irradiation through the reflector and absorbed dose. In the second approach the ultrasound and the radiation beam travel into the tumor from different windows of entry such that the radiation beam passes through no portion of the water bolus prior to entering the patient. We have termed this approach the orthogonal approach. For both approaches, the radiation fraction is given in the middle of an uninterrupted 60-min hyperthermia treatment. Results: The system modifications did not impair the ability to effectively deliver ultrasound hyperthermia or 60Co teletherapy. With the en-face approach the ultrasonic patterns generated with and without the reflector demonstrated that the ultrasound system maintained both a uniform and controllable heating pattern. The 60Co beam had no effect on the performance of the thermocouple thermometers. The radiation beam is attenuated nearly uniformly by the reflector system. To date, 10 patients have been treated with the en-face approach and 12 have been treated with the orthogonal approach (90 treatments). Conclusions: The clinical implementation of ultrasound hyperthermia simultaneous with 60Co irradiation is technically and clinically feasible without any complications or hazards to the patient. The implementation of a reflecting device allows en-face delivery of both the ultrasound and 60Co irradiation. Temperatures obtained during simultaneous treatments are comparable to those historically obtained during sequential treatments with the same commercial ultrasound device.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1200
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996


  • Hyperthermia
  • Radiation therapy
  • Simultaneous
  • Ultrasound


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