Applicator-guided intensity-modulated radiation therapy

Daniel A. Low, Perry W. Grigsby, James F. Dempsey, Sasa Mutic, Jeffrey F. Williamson, Jerry Markman, K. S.Clifford Chao, Eric E. Klein, James A. Purdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose: We are introducing a novel method for delivering highly conformal dose distributions to cervical cancer tumors using external beam intensity-modulated radiation therapy. The method, termed applicator-guided intensity-modulated radiation therapy (AGIMRT), will use an applicator substitute placed in the vagina and uterus to provide spatial registration and immobilization of the gynecologic organs. The main reason for the applicator substitute will be to localize the fornices, cervix, and uterus with the expectation that the other nearby organs will also be reproducibly positioned with respect to the applicator substitute. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) dose distributions will be used as a substitute for high-dose-rate intracavitary brachytherapy procedures. The flexibility of IMRT will enable customized dose distributions that have the potential to reduce complications and improve local control, especially for locally advanced disease. Methods and Materials: To test the advantages of IMRT over intracavitary brachytherapy, volumetric scans of three cervical cancer patients were obtained with implanted CT-compatible applicators. IMRT dose distribution simulations using tomotherapy, were compared against intracavitary brachytherapy using cesium tubes to investigate the dosimetric differences of the two modalities. Because these tumor volumes do not image well on CT, the target volumes were defined as the isodose surface containing the traditional point A, defined as 2 cm superior to the vaginal fornices and 2 cm lateral to the intrauterine canal. One patient had a uterus that wrapped superior and anterior to the bladder. For this case, the cervix and uterus were selected as the target volume. To determine the potential for using an applicator substitute to localize internal organs, the posterior bladder and anterior rectal surfaces were localized relative to the colpostats. Comparisons of the colpostat-localized surfaces were conducted for two scan studies for 3 patients. Results: The IMRT distributions covered the point-A isodose surfaces while reducing doses to the bladder and rectum. Brachytherapy showed extensive underdose regions in the target volume for the wrapped-around target. Spatial positioning was better than 0.7 and 1.3 cm in the rectum and bladder, respectively, indicating the potential that an applicator substitute may be able to localize these structures. Conclusions: AGIMRT has the potential for improving critical structure avoidance while maintaining highly reproducible and accurate internal organ registration found with brachytherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1400-1406
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2002


  • Cervical cancer treatment
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • Tomotherapy


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