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Beam size limit for pencil minibeam radiotherapy determined from side effects in an in-vivo mouse ear model

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Side effects caused by radiation are a limiting factor to the amount of dose that can be applied to a tumor volume. A novel method to reduce side effects in radiotherapy is the use of spatial fractionation, in which a pattern of sub-millimeter beams (minibeams) is applied to spare healthy tissue. In order to determine the skin reactions in dependence of single beam sizes, which are relevant for spatially fractionated radiotherapy approaches, single pencil beams of submillimeter to 6 millimeter size were applied in BALB/c mice ears at a Small Animal Radiation Research Platform (SARRP) with a plateau dose of 60 Gy. Radiation toxicities in the ears were observed for 25 days after irradiation. Severe radiation responses were found for beams ≥ 3 mm diameter. The larger the beam diameter the stronger the observed reactions. No ear swelling and barely reddening or desquamation were found for the smallest beam sizes (0.5 and 1 mm). The findings were confirmed by histological sections. Submillimeter beams are preferred in minibeam therapy to obtain optimized tissue sparing. The gradual increase of radiation toxicity with beam size shows that also larger beams are capable of healthy tissue sparing in spatial fractionation.

Matthias Sammer, Katharina Teiluf, Stefanie Girst, Christoph Greubel, Judith Reindl, Katarina Ilicic, Dietrich W. M. Walsh, Michaela Aichler, Axel Walch, Stephanie E. Combs, Jan J. Wilkens, Günther Dollinger, Thomas E. Schmid

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