Comparison of novel shielded nasopharynx applicator designs for intracavitary brachytherapy

Publication Date: October 3, 2022

Benjamin Insley, Ken Goldberg, Luc Beaulieu, Yunzhi Ma, Stephen McKinley, I-Chow Hsu, J. Adam Cunha, “Comparison of novel shielded nasopharynx applicator designs for intracavitary brachytherapy”, Brachytherapy, Volume 21, Issue 2, 2022, Pages 229-237, ISSN 1538-4721,


Purpose Nasopharyngeal brachytherapy is limited in part by the radiotolerance of nearby organs like the soft palate. This study explores several novel shielding designs for an intracavitary applicator to significantly reduce soft palate dose while adhering to the constraints of standard treatment procedure.

Methods The Monte Carlo code TOPAS is used to characterize each prototype under typical high-dose-rate treatment conditions. Mucosal surface dose maps are collected to evaluate the shields on their dose reduction to the central and soft palate planning points and uniformity in their shielding profile. Practicality with respect to patient comfort and pretreatment imaging is discussed. History-by-history standard deviations are calculated for each simulation.

Results A design with elliptical tubing containing bundles of tantalum wires provides the most significant attenuation with 39% and 27% dose reduction to the center and soft palate locations, respectively. Another design utilizing miniature lead spheres loaded into a constructed cavity shows 27% and 24% dose reduction to the same locations while providing more uniform shielding and several practical benefits. Both shields are designed to be completely removable for applicator insertion and pretreatment imaging. The mean and maximum standard error of relative dose measurements was 0.36 and 1.14 percentage points, respectively.

Conclusion Each shielding design presented in this study provides a novel approach to safely and effectively shield healthy tissue during intracavitary nasopharyngeal brachytherapy. Analysis performed using Monte Carlo suggests that the design using metal spheres most practically shields the soft palate and should be advanced to the next stages of clinical optimization.