Brachial plexus dose tolerance in head and neck cancer patients treated with sequential intensity modulated radiation therapy

Tarita O. Thomas, Tamer Refaat, Mehee Choi, Ian Bacchus, Sean Sachdev, Alfred W. Rademaker, Vythialingam Sathiaseelan, Achilles Karagianis, Bharat B. Mittal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: We aimed to study the radiation induced brachial plexopathy in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) treated with Sequential Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (S-IMRT). Methods and materials: This IRB approved study included 68 patients with HNSCC treated consecutively. Detailed dose volume histogram data was generated for ipsilateral and contralateral brachial plexus (BP) volumes receiving a specified dose (Vds) i.e. V50-V75 and dose in Gray covering specified percent of BP volume (Dvs) i.e. D5-D30 and maximum point doses (Dmax). To assess BP injury all patients' charts were reviewed in detail for sign and symptoms of BP damage. Post-hoc comparisons were done using Tukey-Kramer method to account for multiple significance testing. Results: The mean and maximum doses to BP were significantly different (p < .05) based on tumor site, nodal status and tumor stage. The mean volume to the ipsilateral BP for V50, V60, V70, and V75 were 7.01cc, 4.37cc, 1.47cc and 0.24cc, respectively. The mean dose delivered to ≤5% of ipsilateral BP was 68.70Gy (median 69.5Gy). None of the patients had acute or late brachial plexopathy or any other significant neurological complications, with a minimum follow up of two years (mean 54months). Conclusions: In this study cohort, at a minimum of two-years follow up, the mean dose of 68.7Gy, a median dose to 69.5Gy to ≤5% of ipsilateral BP, and a median Dmax of 72.96Gy did not result in BP injury when patients were treated with S-IMRT technique. However, longer follow up is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number94
JournalRadiation Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 18 2015


  • Brachial plexus
  • Radiation
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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