PET-guided three-dimensional treatment planning of intracavitary gynecologic implants

Sasa Mutic, Perry W. Grigsby, Daniel A. Low, James F. Dempsey, William B. Harms, Richard Laforest, Walter R. Bosch, Tom R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Purpose: Positron emission tomography (PET) provides physiologic information that is not available from computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance studies. PET images may allow more accurate delineation of three-dimensional treatment planning target volumes of brachytherapy gynecologic (GYN) implants. This study evaluates the feasibility of using PET as the sole source of target, normal structure, and applicator delineation for intracavitary GYN implant treatment planning. Methods and Materials: Standard Fletcher-Suit brachytherapy tandem and colpostat applicators were used for radiation delivery. After insertion of the applicator in the operating room, the patient was taken to a PET scanner, where 555 MBq (15 mCi) 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) was administered intravenously. Forty-five minutes later, three localization tubes containing 18F-FDG were inserted into the source afterloading compartments of the tandem and colpostat. A whole-pelvis scan was performed, and the images were transferred to a commercial brachytherapy three-dimensional treatment planning system. A Foley catheter was inserted into the urinary bladder while the patient was in the operating room. The regions of radioactivity in the three applicator tube image were contoured for reconstruction of the applicator, along with the bladder, rectum, and 18F-FDG-defined target volumes. A treatment plan was generated that included dose-volume histograms and three-dimensional dose distribution displays, allowing the physician an opportunity to determine if adequate target coverage and normal-tissue sparing had been obtained. For a more conservative approach, three-dimensional dose distributions and dose-volume histograms delivered with conventional source arrangements and loading could be observed. The accuracy of applicator localization from the PET images was verified using a water phantom containing two aluminum CT-compatible tandems. The PET-defined and CT scan applicator reconstructions were compared. Results: Feasibility of using PET images for treatment planning of brachytherapy intracavitary GYN implants has been demonstrated. A phantom study demonstrated applicator reconstruction accuracy in the axial direction to be better than 2 mm. Reconstruction accuracy in the longitudinal direction (principally craniocaudal) was similar to the PET scanner's voxel size of 4.3 mm. Conclusions: Brachytherapy intracavitary GYN implant design has traditionally been based on patient tumor staging, palpation, and clinical experience. PET images have the potential to provide better spatial information about the relationship of tumor and normal structures to the applicator. This information can be used to optimize the delivery of radiation therapy treatments. Thus far, six patients have been scanned using this process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1104-1110
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 2002


  • Brachytherapy
  • Gynecologic implants
  • PET
  • Treatment planning


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