Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy involves placing a protected source of high energy radiation directly within the tumor and using specially designed applicators, such as radioactive plaques, needles, tubes, wires, or small "seeds" made of radionuclides. These radioactive materials are placed over the surface of the tumor or implanted within the tumor, or placed within a body cavity surrounded by the tumor. To make the patient more comfortable, pain or relaxing medication is often given prior to the procedure. Once the applicator is placed, imaging is performed to verify placement and for treatment planning. An individualized treatment plan is created and delivered. Following treatment, the applicator is removed.
Whereas low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy places radioactive materials inside the body for extended periods of time, the high energy of the source used in HDR brachytherapy (usually Iridium-192) means that doctors can deliver equivalent doses of radiation in just a few minutes by inserting and then removing the radioactive beads. Thus, HDR brachytherapy is usually performed as a short series of outpatient procedures.
How does high-dose rate brachytherapy treatment process differs from low-dose brachytherapy?
HDR brachytherapy is usually performed as a short series of outpatient procedures. Low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy places radioactive materials inside the body for extended periods of time, but the high energy of the source used in HDR brachytherapy (usually Iridium-192) means that doctors can deliver equivalent doses of radiation in a much shorter amount of time.
Features and advantages
Increased safety: HDR brachytherapy allows highly localized doses of radiation to be delivered to the tumor quickly and without radiation exposure to a patient's family or the hospital staff.
Faster treatment is more convenient: Because HDR brachytherapy is performed on an outpatient basis, it is much more convenient and cost-effective than low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy, which usually requires a hospital stay.
Fewer side effects: In addition, LDR brachytherapy often requires patients to remain as still as possible for days at a time, exposing them to risk of deep vein thrombosis. This risk is eliminated with HDR brachytherapy which does not require prolonged immobility.
Precise control: The treatment planning system of HDR brachytherapy permits doctors to precisely control the amount of radiation delivered to the region, and to limit the amount of radiation that reaches nearby healthy tissue.