High-Dose Rate (HDR) Endobronchial Brachytherapy
X-ray of the catheter and radioactive material placed in the bronchial tubes
Some lung cancers that are located near the bronchial tubes (the passages that connect the lungs to the throat) are best treated with high doses of radiation for a short amount of time. At UPMC CancerCenter, we do this using a method called endobronchial brachytherapy.
How is endobronchial brachytherapy done?
In this treatment, we place a thin plastic tube — called a catheter — in the area to be treated. The catheter is then attached to a machine that moves the radiation source into the catheter.
Once treatment is done, the radioactive material is withdrawn and the catheter is removed.
What can I expect during the procedure?
You will receive endobronchial brachytherapy through the throat.
During your treatment, a radiation oncologist:
- Numbs your throat with a spray.
- Passes a lighted tube — called a bronchoscope — through your nose and down your throat to the area that will be treated.
- Passes a temporary catheter (a plastic tube) through the bronchoscope and secures it to the treatment site, and then removes the scope.
- Attaches the tube to the treatment machine, called a remote afterloader. The afterloader sends the radioactive treatment source to the end of the catheter, where it treats the area for three to 10 minutes (as determined by your radiation oncologist).
After the treatment time, the afterloader withdraws the radioactive source, and, following a check by the staff, your radiation oncologist removes the catheter.
Most people can leave the hospital after one or two hours of recovery.
What are the benefits of endobronchial brachytherapy?
Because the radiation source is placed next to the affected area:
- Exposure of healthy tissue to radiation is minimized.
- A higher level of radiation can be used than would be possible with external radiation treatment.
- Treatment may be more effective.
Additional benefits include:
- No surgical incisions — since all the materials go down the nose and throat.
- Few side effects — many people may experience a sore throat following the procedure.
Who provides endobronchial brachytherapy at UPMC CancerCenter?
Hillman Cancer Center
Arnold Palmer Radiation Oncology at Mountain View Medical Park
UPMC CancerCenter Radiation Oncology at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
UPMC CancerCenter Radiation Oncology at UPMC Passavant
UPMC CancerCenter Radiation Oncology at UPMC St. Margaret