Brachytherapy is an established procedure in primary and in recurrent cancer. We perform afterloading brachytherapy during general anaesthesia. The target organ is punctured with hollow needles which are loaded with 192iridium via remote control. The depth and number of needles depend on tumour extension. In the interdisciplinary approach of our departments, this method has been improved and supplied by B-scan ultrasound control. Needles are positioned under continuous ultrasonographic guidance, and adjacent structures (e.g. the carotid artery) are localized ultrasonographically. Thus violation of the large vessels is avoided and the exact position of the needles within the tumour is improved.
In this paper, we report results on 22 patients suffering from recurrent carcinoma of the head and neck following surgery and curative radiation, and 17 patients with first onset of cancer. We did not observe any severe complications such as haemorrhage, osteomyelitis, or dyspnoea. The only side-effect was temporary oedema, sometimes associated with a short-term increase of pain. No systemic side-effects occurred.
The method is described and results from both patient groups are reported in detail. We conclude from our data that ultrasonographically-controlled endoscopic brachytherapy is a valuable procedure in locally-advanced primary, and in recurrent head and neck cancer.