Breast cancer patients who receive radiation to their left breast are at
risk for increased cardiac morbidity and mortality in their lifetime.
In order to avoid potential damage to a patient’s heart during treatment,
Good Samaritan is introducing a breath-holding technique that reduces
the impact to the heart during left-sided breast cancer treatment. This
technique is called deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH) and Good Samaritan
is the first hospital in the area to offer this heart-sparing technique
Deep inspiration breath hold is a radiation therapy technique where a patient
takes a deep breath during treatment and holds their breath for a brief
period while the radiation is being delivered. “In order to avoid
radiation doses to the heart, we use the DIBH technique on patients who
have left-sided breast cancer,” said Dr. Brian Gebhardt, Good Samaritan
Radiation Oncologist. “This technique increases the physical separation
between the heart and the chest wall, and minimizes the risk of late complications
and ensures excellent outcomes for the patient.”
This inspiration technique gives the patient the ability to participate
in their treatment while being expertly monitored during treatment delivery.
The breath hold is for very short periods, typically 20 seconds or less,
with breaks of normal breathing in between holds.
During a recent study at the University of North Carolina, patients who
were treated using DIBH exhibited 0% radiation-induced abnormalities in
blood flow to the heart six months after treatment. The DIBH treatment
is completely non-invasive with no external markers or forced breath hold.
The DIBH technique is now a standard practice at Good Samaritan to ensure
the safety of its patients “The DIBH technique allows us to deliver
accurate radiation treatment to our patients while also decreasing the
damage to their heart,” said Patricia Inyart, Radiation Oncology
Manager. “Good Samaritan and the Radiation Oncology Department are
constantly researching innovative and best practices for our patients,
which is why we are the first in our region to offer this heart-sparing
The staff at Good Samaritan has been trained on the new technique and
patients are given instructions on how to participate in the treatment.
The equipment used includes positioning lasers, breath monitors and state-of-the-art
software. The scans of the body show the therapists the location of the
heart in relation to the breast which helps ensure safe, accurate treatment.