Technical management of a pregnant patient undergoing radiation therapy to the head and neck

Matthew B. Podgorsak, Robert J. Meiler, Hank Kowal, Steven P. Kishel, James B. Orner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

The fetal dose in a pregnant patient undergoing radiation therapy to the head and neck region was investigated. Implicit in this study was the design and evaluation of a shield used to minimize the fetal dose. To evaluate the fetal dose, a phantom was irradiated with the fields designed for this patient's therapy. The peripheral dose was measured for each field individually, both without and with a custom shield designed to be placed about the patient's abdominal and pelvic regions. The total dose at the location of the fetus over the course of this patient's radiation therapy was then estimated from peripheral dose rate measurements made at several points within the simulated uterus. With no shielding, the total dose within the uterus of the patient would have ranged from 13.3 cGy at the cervix to 28 cGy at the fundus. With the shield applied, the uterine dose was significantly less: 3.3 cGy at the cervix to 8.6 cGy at the fundus. In fact, at every measurement point, the peripheral dose with the shield in place was 30% to 50% of the dose without the shield. Some data suggest that the rate of significant abnormalities induced by irradiation in utero increases with increasing dose within the range of total peripheral doses incurred during most radiation treatment courses. It is therefore prudent to make reasonable attempts at minimizing the dose to the lower abdominal and pelvic regions of any pregnant patient. The shield designed in this work accomplished this goal for this patient and is flexible enough to be used in the treatment of almost all tumor volumes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Dosimetry
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 21 1999

Keywords

  • Fetal dose
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Shielding

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