Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT)
Image-Guided Radio Therapy (IGRT)

By Malla Reddy Narayana on 15 Jul, 2022

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Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) is a technique which involves collecting images to verify a tumor’s position before external beam radiotherapy treatment is delivered. The purpose is to ensure the focus of the radiation is the tumor and a minimal amount to surrounding healthy tissue.

Imaging-guided radiation therapy is used to treat tumors located in areas of the body normally prone to movement (for example, lungs, liver, prostate, etc.) or those located near vital organs and tissues.

Image-guided radiotherapy uses scans and x-rays to make sure that you’re in the correct position for your radiotherapy treatment. The machines that deliver the radiation therapy (linear accelerators) have specialized equipment built-in to take high-quality x-ray images. You have them while you are on the radiotherapy couch, just before your treatment starts. Images can be taken immediately before, during or after treatment. These images are compared with the images that were taken to plan your radiation therapy treatment. By comparing the treatment images to the planning images, we are able to make millimeter adjustments to the position of the treatment beams to ensure that treatment is being delivered precisely.

If you are to undergo IGRT, your doctor will likely use CT scanning to conduct a treatment simulation session and to create reference images. Other imaging procedures, such as MRI or PET scan, may be used to help determine the exact shape and location of your tumor, and a special device may be created to help you maintain the same exact position during each treatment. Your doctor will give you specific instructions based on the type of exam being performed.

IGRT is a very important advance in radiation therapy technology that improves the chance of killing cancer whilst reducing the risk of damaging normal body tissues and structures.
Tumors are not stationary, unchanging targets; they move between and during treatments. IGRT uses daily CT scanning to create three-dimensional images that pinpoint the exact size, location and coordinates of the tumor. In the past, oncologists have had to compensate for tumor movements by making the radiation beam larger, exposing a significant volume of healthy tissue to radiation. This increased precision allows for more powerful beams of radiation resulting in higher cure rates.

The first step in a radiation procedure is called a simulation, in which your medical team will prepare you for the actual procedure at a later date. Simulations increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment by pinpointing the exact location for delivering the radiation dosage. Treatment is similar to simulation but typically shorter in duration because your medical team will already have a plan in place for the procedure. 
Both during and following radiation therapy, you will have regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. These will help ensure that your treatments are effective, as well as address any side effects that you may experience from radiation. IGRT is usually the ideal radiation therapy treatment for breast, prostate, lung cancers.

Side effects of radiation treatment include problems that occur as a result of the treatment itself as well as from radiation damage to healthy cells in the treatment area. Radiation therapy can cause early and late side effects. Early side effects occur during or immediately after treatment and are typically gone within a few weeks. Common early side effects of radiation therapy include tiredness or fatigue and skin problems. Skin in the treatment area may become more sensitive, red, irritated, or swollen. Other skin changes include dryness, itching, peeling and blistering.

IGRT is now viewed as the standard of treatment for radiation therapy. It can be used with a wide range of cancers more effectively than older forms of radiotherapy without imaging. With the right guidance and treatments, side effects can be minimized and recovery from radiation therapy can be faster. 


1. What is IGRT?

Treatment session in the radiation therapy procedure known as “image-guided radiation therapy” (IGRT) uses imaging tools. To treat both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, radiation therapy employs high-energy radiation beams.

2. What is the difference between IGRT and IMRT?

 Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses cutting-edge radiation therapy for extremely precise treatment delivery, whereas Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is done to precisely match the radiation dose to the highest cancer cell burden.

3. What are the common side effects of radiation therapy?

The two early adverse effects that are most frequently reported are skin changes and exhaustion. When radiation treatment is administered to the location in question, other early side effects are typically connected to it, such as hair loss and mouth issues.

4. Why is IGRT beneficial?

Oncology doctors can precisely focus the radiotherapy treatment region with IGRT, so that surrounding healthy tissues are not exposed to as much radiation. This can lessen the possibility of radiation side effects.

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