Fiducial markers implanted during prostate brachytherapy for guiding conformal external beam radiation therapy

James S Welsh, Christine Berta, Scott Borzillary, Celis Sam, Derek Shickell, Lisa Nobile, Marsha Greenberg, Stephanie Weiss, Nicholas Detorie
Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment 2004, 3 (4): 359-64
Prostate movement imposes limits on safe dose-escalation with external beam radiation therapy. If the precise daily location of the prostate is known, dose escalation becomes more feasible. We have developed an approach to dose escalation using a combination of prostate brachytherapy followed by external beam radiation therapy in which fiducial markers are placed along with (125)I seeds during transperineal interstitial permanent prostate brachytherapy. These markers serve to verify daily prostate location during the subsequent external beam radiotherapy. Prior to implementing this approach, preliminary studies were performed to test visibility of the markers. Three different (125)I seed models, as well as gold and silver marker seeds were placed within tissue-equivalent phantoms. Images were obtained with conventional x-rays (75-85 kV) and 6 MV photons from a linear accelerator. All (125)I seed models were clearly visible on conventional x-rays but none were seen with 6 MV photons. The gold markers were visible with both energies. The silver markers were visible with conventional x-rays and 6 MV x-rays, but not as clearly as the gold seeds at 6 MV. Subsequently, conventional x-rays, CT scans, and 6 MV port films were obtained in 29 patients in whom fiducial gold marker seeds were implanted into the prostate during (125)I prostate brachytherapy. To address the possibility of "seed migration" within the prostate, CT scans were repeated 5 weeks apart in 14 patients and relative positions of the gold seeds were evaluated. The repeated CT scans showed no change in intraprostatic gold marker location, suggesting minimal migration. The gold seeds were visible with conventional x-rays, CT, and 6 MV port films in all patients. During the course of external beam radiation therapy, the gold markers were visible on routine 6 MV port films and were seen in different locations from film to film suggesting prostate motion. Mean daily displacement was 4-5 mm in the anterior-posterior, and 4-5 mm in superior-inferior dimensions. Left-right displacement appeared less, averaging 2-3 mm. We conclude that implantation of gold marker seeds during prostate brachytherapy represents an easily implemented and practical means of prostate localization during subsequent image-guided external beam radiotherapy. With such markers, conformality of the external beam component can be confidently improved without expensive new equipment.

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