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Radiother Oncol. 2013 Aug;108(2):242-7. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2013.04.021. Epub 2013 May 29.

The UK HeartSpare Study: randomised evaluation of voluntary deep-inspiratory breath-hold in women undergoing breast radiotherapy.

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Department of Academic Radiotherapy, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Sutton, UK. Electronic address:



To determine whether voluntary deep-inspiratory breath-hold (v_DIBH) and deep-inspiratory breath-hold with the active breathing coordinator™ (ABC_DIBH) in patients undergoing left breast radiotherapy are comparable in terms of normal-tissue sparing, positional reproducibility and feasibility of delivery.


Following surgery for early breast cancer, patients underwent planning-CT scans in v_DIBH and ABC_DIBH. Patients were randomised to receive one technique for fractions 1-7 and the second technique for fractions 8-15 (40 Gy/15 fractions total). Daily electronic portal imaging (EPI) was performed and matched to digitally-reconstructed radiographs. Cone-beam CT (CBCT) images were acquired for 6/15 fractions and matched to planning-CT data. Population systematic (Σ) and random errors (σ) were estimated. Heart, left-anterior-descending coronary artery, and lung doses were calculated. Patient comfort, radiographer satisfaction and scanning/treatment times were recorded. Within-patient comparisons between the two techniques used the paired t-test or Wilcoxon signed-rank test.


Twenty-three patients were recruited. All completed treatment with both techniques. EPI-derived Σ were ≤ 1.8mm (v_DIBH) and ≤ 2.0mm (ABC_DIBH) and σ ≤ 2.5mm (v_DIBH) and ≤ 2.2mm (ABC_DIBH) (all p non-significant). CBCT-derived Σ were ≤ 3.9 mm (v_DIBH) and ≤ 4.9 mm (ABC_DIBH) and σ ≤ 4.1mm (v_DIBH) and ≤ 3.8mm (ABC_DIBH). There was no significant difference between techniques in terms of normal-tissue doses (all p non-significant). Patients and radiographers preferred v_DIBH (p=0.007, p=0.03, respectively). Scanning/treatment setup times were shorter for v_DIBH (p=0.02, p=0.04, respectively).


v_DIBH and ABC_DIBH are comparable in terms of positional reproducibility and normal tissue sparing. v_DIBH is preferred by patients and radiographers, takes less time to deliver, and is cheaper than ABC_DIBH.


Activated breathing control; Breast cancer; Cardiac dose; Radiotherapy; Voluntary breath-hold

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