The influence of air cavities on the optic chiasm dose during pituitary radiotherapy for acromegaly
Jones B., Samarasekara S., Tan LT., Mayles WPM.
The treatment planning of acromegalic patients can be complicated by the presence of abnormally large frontal air sinuses which allow increased anterior beam transmission causing increased dose to the optic nerve and chiasm which, if excessive, can result in blindness. This potential problem has been investigated by computer treatment planning exercises which have allowed for a variable thickness (1-3 cm) of air cavity beneath the frontal field and for different weightings of the lateral opposed fields relative to the anterior held. The resultant overdosage can be greater than 5% of the intended dose. The increased biological effect from errors of this magnitude is sufficient to increase the risk of optic nerve damage since neural tissue is very sensitive to small increments in fraction size. Even when the reduced attenuation is allowed for in the computer plan, the thickness of the air sinuses varies across the field so that irradiation through the frontal enlarged frontal air sinuses causes inhomogeneous dose distributions in the target volume. Acromegalic patients should therefore be treated with a more superior beam which would avoid the air sinuses altogether.