Background: Feasibility testing of a simultaneous sparing approach of hippocampus, hypothalamus and pituitary gland in patients undergoing whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) with and without a concomitant boost to metastatic sites. Introduction: Cognitive impairment and hormonal dysfunction are common side effects of cranial radiotherapy. A reduced dose application to the patho-physiologically involved functional brain areas, i.e. hippocampus, hypothalamus and pituitary gland, could reduce these common side effects. While hippocampal sparing is already a common practice to improve cognitive outcome, technical experience of additional combined sparing of the hypothalamus/pituitary gland (HT-P) is insufficient. Methods: Twenty patients were included in the planning study. In 11 patients, a total dose of 36 Gy of WBRT (2 Gy per fraction) plus a simultaneous integrated boost (SIB) of 9 Gy (0.5 Gy per fraction, total dose: 45 Gy) to the brain metastases was applied. In 9 patients, prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) was simulated with a total dose of 30 Gy (2 Gy per fraction). In both patient cohorts, a sparing approach of the hippocampus and the HT-P area was simulated during WBRT. For all treatment plans, volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) was used. Quality assurance included assessment of homogeneity, conformality and target coverage. Results: The mean dose to the hippocampus and HT-P region was limited to less than 50% of the prescribed dose to the planning target volume (PTV) in all treatment plans. Dose homogeneity (HI) of the target volume was satisfying (median HI = 0.16 for WBRT+SIB and 0.1 for PCI) and target coverage (conformation number, CN) was not compromised (median CN = 0.82 for SIB and 0.86 for PCI). Conclusion: Simultaneous dose reduction to the hippocampus and the HT-P area did not compromise the PTV coverage in patients undergoing WBRT+SIB or PCI using VMAT. While the feasibility of the presented approach is promising, prospective neurologic, endocrine outcome and safety studies are required.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)