Dosimetric impact of tracheostomy devices in head and neck cancer patients
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INTRODUCTION: The tracheostomy site and adjacent skin is at risk for recurrence in head/neck squamous cell cancer patients. The tracheostomy tube is an in situ device located directly over the tracheostomy site and may have clinical implications on the radiation dose delivered to the peristomal region. This study aimed to investigate this effect by comparing the prescribed treatment planning dose with the actual dose in vivo to the peristomal clinical target region. A retrospective, dosimetric study was performed with approval of the institutional research ethics board. METHODS: Fifteen patients who had received high-dose radiotherapy to the tracheostomy region with in vivo dose measurements were included. The radiation dose at the skin surface underneath the tracheostomy device was measured using an optically stimulated luminescent dosimeter (OSLD) and was compared with the prescribed dose from the radiation planning system. The effect of the tracheostomy flange and/or soft tissue equivalent bolus on the peristomal dose was calculated. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Patients with tracheostomy equipment in situ were found to have a 3.7% difference between their prescribed and actual dose. With a tissue equivalent bolus there was a 2.0% difference between predicted and actual. The mean prescribed single fraction dose (mean = 191.8 cGy, SD = 40.18) and OSLD measured dose (mean = 194.02 cGy, SD = 44.3) were found to have no significant difference. However, with the flange excluded from the planning simulation (density = air) target skin dose deviated from predicted by an average of 55.3% (range = 12.4-72.9, SD = 22.5) and volume coverage was not achieved. CONCLUSION: In summary, the tracheostomy flange acts like bolus with a twofold increase in the skin surface dose. Changes in the peristomal apparatus from simulation to treatment needs to be considered to ensure that the simulated dose and coverage is achieved.
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