Versatility of the Novalis system to deliver image-guided stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for various anatomical sites

Bin S. Teh, Arnold C. Paulino, Hsin H. Lu, J. Kam Chiu, Susan Richardson, Stephen Chiang, Robert Amato, E. Brian Butler, Charles Bloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (FSRT) programs to treat brain tumors were implemented when we first acquired the Brainlab Novalis system in 2003. Two years later, we started an extra-cranial stereotactic radio-ablation or more appropriately a stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) program using the Brainlab Novalis image-guided system at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. We hereby summarize our initial experience with this system in delivering image-guided SBRT to a total of 80 patients during our first year of clinical implementation, from February 2005 to January 2006. Over 100 lesions in more than 20 distinct anatomical sites were treated. These include all levels of spine from cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral lesions. Spinal lesions encompass intramedullary, intradural, extradural, or osseous compartments. Also treated were lesions in other bony sites including orbit, clavicle, scapula, humerus, sternum, rib, femur, and pelvis (ilium, ischium, and pubis). Primary or metastatic lesions located in the head and neck, supraclavicular region, axilla, mediastinum, lung (both central and peripheral), abdominal wall, liver, kidney, para-aortic lymph nodes, prostate, and pelvis were also treated. In addition to primary radiotherapy, SBRT program using the Brainlab Novalis system allows re-irradiation for recurrence and "boost" after conventional treatment to various anatomical sites. Treating these sites safely and efficaciously requires knowledge in radiation tolerance, fraction size, total dose, biologically equivalent dose (BED), prior radiotherapy, detailed dose volume histograms (DVH) of normal tissues, and the radiosensitive/radioresistant nature of the tumor. Placement of radio-opaque markers (Visicoil, Radiomed) in anatomical sites not in close proximity to bony landmarks (e.g., kidney and liver) helps in measuring motion and providing image guidance during each treatment fraction. Tumor/organ motion data obtained using 4D-CT while the patient is immobilized in the body cast aids in planning treatment margin and determining the need for respiratory motion control, e.g., abdominal compressor, gating, or active breathing control. The inclusion of PET/CT to the Brainlab treatment planning system further refines the target delineation and possibly guides differential fraction size prescription and delivery. The majority of the patients tolerated the SBRT treatment well despite the longer daily treatment time when compared to that of conventional treatment. All patients achieved good pain relief after SBRT. Compared to conventional standard radiotherapy of lower daily fraction size, we observed that the patients achieved faster pain relief and possibly more durable symptom control. Very high local control with stable disease on imaging was observed post SBRT. Our initial experience shows that the Brainlab Novalis system is very versatile in delivering image-guided SBRT to various anatomical sites. This SBRT approach can be applied to either primary or metastatic lesions in the primary, "boost," or re-irradiation settings. The understanding of fraction size, total dose, BED, and DVH of normal tissues is very important in the treatment planning. Appropriate use of immobilization devices, radio-opaque markers for image-guidance, 4D-CT for tumor/organ motion estimates, and fusion of planning CT scans with biological/functional imaging will further improve the planning and delivery of SBRT, hopefully leading to better treatment outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-354
Number of pages8
JournalTechnology in Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Brainlab Novalis system
  • Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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