Endobronchial brachytherapy is the use of radioactive sources placed within a bronchus (airway) to treat patients suffering from airway obstruction due to lung cancer and other tumors.
First used in the early 1920s, endobronchial brachytherapy often required prolonged treatment times and a hospitalization. Today, it is currently delivered as an outpatient using high-dose-rate (HDR) techniques.
How is Endobronchial Brachytherapy Performed?
Endobronchial Brachytherapy is an outpatient performed in the UCSD Department of Radiation Oncology.
After delivering a local anesthetic, the Pulmonary Specialist introduces a small device known as a bronchoscope via the nose to view the area to be treated.
A thin plastic tube (catheter) is introduced and secured in the proper place. The bronchoscope is then removed. Non-Radioactive (“dummy”) sources are introduced into the catheter to the level of the bronchial obstruction and a CT scan is performed for Treatment Planning.
Flexible Plastic Catheter
The patient is next transferred to the HDR Brachytherapy Suite for Treatment Delivery. The catheter is attached to an afterloading HDR Brachytherapy Machine which under computer control delivers the radioactive source to the treatment site.
Treatment typically lasts 3-10 minutes, depending on the dose delivered and the site treated. After treatment is complete, the radioactive source is automatically withdrawn and the catheter is removed.
Treatment is well tolerated by most patients. After a short recovery time, the patient is able to leave the clinic. Treatment may be repeated several times.