Hippocampal-sparing whole-brain radiotherapy: A "how-to" technique using helical tomotherapy and linear accelerator-based intensity-modulated radiotherapy

Vinai Gondi, Ranjini Tolakanahalli, Minesh P. Mehta, Dinesh Tewatia, Howard Rowley, John S. Kuo, Deepak Khuntia, Wolfgang A. Tomé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

184 Scopus citations


Purpose: Sparing the hippocampus during cranial irradiation poses important technical challenges with respect to contouring and treatment planning. Herein we report our preliminary experience with whole-brain radiotherapy using hippocampal sparing for patients with brain metastases. Methods and Materials: Five anonymous patients previously treated with whole-brain radiotherapy with hippocampal sparing were reviewed. The hippocampus was contoured, and hippocampal avoidance regions were created using a 5-mm volumetric expansion around the hippocampus. Helical tomotherapy and linear accelerator (LINAC)-based intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) treatment plans were generated for a prescription dose of 30 Gy in 10 fractions. Results: On average, the hippocampal avoidance volume was 3.3 cm3, occupying 2.1% of the whole-brain planned target volume. Helical tomotherapy spared the hippocampus, with a median dose of 5.5 Gy and maximum dose of 12.8 Gy. LINAC-based IMRT spared the hippocampus, with a median dose of 7.8 Gy and maximum dose of 15.3 Gy. On a per-fraction basis, mean dose to the hippocampus (normalized to 2-Gy fractions) was reduced by 87% to 0.49 Gy2 using helical tomotherapy and by 81% to 0.73 Gy2 using LINAC-based IMRT. Target coverage and homogeneity was acceptable with both IMRT modalities, with differences largely attributed to more rapid dose fall-off with helical tomotherapy. Conclusion: Modern IMRT techniques allow for sparing of the hippocampus with acceptable target coverage and homogeneity. Based on compelling preclinical evidence, a Phase II cooperative group trial has been developed to test the postulated neurocognitive benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1244-1252
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 4 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • Helical tomotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 0933
  • hippocampal avoidance
  • neurocognitive function
  • whole-brain radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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