Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) uses imaging techniques during a patient’s radiation therapy to improve accuracy and precision of the radiation therapy.
During this procedure, the physician is able to image the tumor before, during, or after the radiation therapy, as radiation delivering equipment is equipped with the imaging technology such as CT Scan, MRI, PET, ultrasound, or X-ray.
In this manner, the physician can compare images and provide precise and accurate radiation required, by changing the radiation beam or by altering the patient’s position.
IGRT is often used for tumors closer to critical organs or on organs prone to movements such as the prostate gland, liver, and lungs.
Why is the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) performed?
An Image-Guided Radiation Therapy is performed to precisely and accurately apply radiation therapy to a tumor.
How does the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) work?
- The linear accelerator provides radiation beams during the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy procedure
- The CT, MRI, PET scans, or ultrasound is used for imaging purposes
How is the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) Performed?
- The patient is positioned on the treatment table
- Skin marks are used to provide radiation accurately to the target area
- Images are taken using the imaging equipment
- Images are reviewed and compared with images taken during simulation
- Adjustment to the patient’s position or radiation beams are made, as needed
- Once the patient is properly positioned, radiation therapy is delivered
How long will the IGRT Procedure take?
- The length of an Image-Guided Radiation Therapy depends on the tumor size, location, and many other related factors.
- Imaging guidance generally adds 5 minutes to the radiation therapy.
What are the Benefits versus risks of IGRT Procedure?
Following are the benefits of the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) procedure:
- It helps destroy the tumor cells directly.
- It helps minimize the side effects of radiation therapy to neighboring healthy tissues, as IGRT is a precise and accurate technique.
Following are the risks of the Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) procedure:
- Possibility of secondary cancer (in some rare cases).
- Rarely, lung, brain, spinal cord, and bone joint changes may take place.
What are the Limitations of Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)?
Following are the limitations of the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy procedure:
- Depending on the image guidance technique used, the resolution of the tumor image may vary.
- If the location of the tumor is near a bone, then ultrasound guidance may be difficult.
What is to be expected during the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)?
- The linear accelerator may produce an ozone gas, which has a pungent smell.
- The IGRT procedure is painless and non-invasive.
What are the possible Risks and Complication during the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)?
The following risks are possible during the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) procedure:
- Risk of secondary cancer (in the future)
- Changes in the lung, brain, spinal cord, and bone joints, which may occur in rare cases
- The procedure may not be advised for pregnant women and children
What is to be expected after the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)?
- The patient may experience skin blistering, redness, or swelling in the areas exposed to radiation therapy
- Hair loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, mouth-related signs and symptoms, urinary changes, and headaches are commonly observed as early side effects of the Image Guided Radiation Therapy
- Lymphedema (swollen lymph nodes) and changes in the mouth may be noted, after the treatment
How long does it normally take to fully recover from the IGRT Procedure?
The length of recovery after an Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) procedure depends upon the amount of radiation delivered and the location of the tumor.