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Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

Traditionally, imaging technology has been used to produce three-dimensional scans of the patient's anatomy to identify the exact location of the cancer tumor prior to treatment. However, difficulty arises when trying to administer the radiation, since cancer tumors are constantly moving within the body (for example, from movement caused by breathing). Hence, the exact location of the tumor may have changed between the time of scan and actual treatment.

IGRT combines a new form of scanning technology, which allows planar or X-ray Volume Imaging (XVI), with IMRT. This enables physicians to adjust the radiation beam based on the position of the target tumor and critical organs, while the patient is in the treatment position.

Image-guided radiation therapy is conformal radiation treatment guided by imaging equipment, such as CT, ultrasound or stereoscopic X-rays, taken in the treatment room just before the patient is given the radiation treatment. IGRT allows radiation to be delivered to tumors with more precision than was traditionally possible. One of the challenges encountered when radiation is delivered to a tumor is that the tumor can move based on the patient's day-to-day position on the treatment table (as well as from breathing). IGRT allows the physician to better deliver the radiation dose directly to the cancer by using a variety of automated and tracking systems. Clinicians obtain daily high-resolution imagery to pinpoint tumor sites, adjust patient positioning when necessary, and complete a treatment, all within the standard treatment time period. By Imaging the tumor daily, we can detect movement in normal structures or changes in tumor location or size which permits the physician to precisely locate the tumor while the patient is in the treatment position. This minimizes the volume of healthy tissue exposed to radiation during treatment, yet allows the delivery of higher doses of radiation to the tumor volume.

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