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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1997 Sep 1;39(2):505-19.

Conformal episcleral plaque therapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033, USA.



Episcleral plaque therapy (EPT) with sealed 125I sources is widely used in the treatment of choroidal melanoma. In EPT, as elsewhere in radiotherapy, concern for normal tissue tolerance has frequently been a dose-limiting factor. The concept of conformal therapy, which seeks to improve dose homogeneity within the tumor and greatly reduce the dose to uninvolved structures may provide a solution to this problem. Radioactive sources are typically distributed uniformly over the surface of an episcleral plaque and are sometimes offset slightly from the scleral surface to reduce the dose to the sclera relative to the apex and prescribed therapeutic margin at the tumor base. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for scleral dose to exceed the dose to the apex of intermediate to tall tumors by a factor of 4 or more. The availability of low-energy sealed sources such as 125I prompted the development of gold-backed plaques to shield noninvolved periocular tissues. The concept of shielding can be extended to include collimation of individual sources. The potential advantages of individual source collimation include reduced scleral dose, more homogeneous tumor dose, and superior shielding of adjacent normal structures such as the fovea as compared to previous plaque designs.


A three-dimensional treatment-planning system has been extended to design a plaque that incorporates individually collimated 125I sources. Thermoluminescent dosimetry (TLD) and radiochromic film were used to compare calculated dose-rate distributions with measured dose rates in an acrylic phantom.


Calculations predict that source collimation in the form of a "slotted" gold plaque will achieve the purposes of the study. The collimating effect of the slots is demonstrated qualitatively using radiochromic film, and the accuracy of the calculation is demonstrated quantitatively with TLD.


The episcleral plaque described in this report is simpler to assemble than previous plaque designs. It produces a more homogeneous dose distribution in the tumor, reduces scleral dose by up to 50% as compared to conventional designs, and significantly reduces radiation dose to uninvolved structures adjacent to the plaque.

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