The Falk Brain Tumor Center at Lurie Children's is giving new hope to children with brain tumors once thought untreatable. The INTRABEAM™ system is an innovative combination of integrated technologies for the delivery of intraoperative radiotherapy (IROT). In 2001, Lurie Children’s was the first pediatric hospital in the United States approved to use the INTRABEAM to treat children with brain tumors.
The system delivers single high doses of precisely controlled radiation directly into the cavities of resected brain tumors. Performed immediately after a confirming biopsy, use of the INTRABEAM system conveniently combines diagnosis and treatment into one patient visit.
Because of devastating long-term consequences, standard external beam radiation has not been an effective treatment option for children diagnosed with brain tumors, especially for those with brainstem gliomas. Even the use of implanted radioactive isotopes has serious drawbacks.
With the INTRABEAM System, X-rays are generated by forming and focusing an electron beam in an electron accelerator. The beam travels down an evacuated needle, hits a thin gold target, and X-rays are emitted from the needle tip in a spherically symmetric pattern with precise control of the depth of penetration. The tumor or tumor cavity is irradiated directly during the tumor resection.
Effective Treatment, Fewer Side Effects
With this system, the most effective dose of radiation is applied directly to the desired area. Radiation does not pass through healthy tissue to reach the tumor, so there is less risk of damage to important structures outside the target area (such as the optic pathways and brainstem). And because dose rates are significantly higher than those achieved with radioisotopes, treatment times are typically less than 20 minutes.
In March 2001, Lurie Children's Internal Review Board approved use of INTRABEAM on children with malignant brain tumors. The hospital's formal research protocol expects to approve INTRABEAM's safety and efficacy in children, especially for patients who have recurrent malignant brain tumors or specific tumors called glioblastoma multiforme. Preliminary results on our earliest patients have now been published, and we continue with the trial.