Cryotherapy, electrocautery, and brachytherapy

Clin Chest Med. 1999 Mar;20(1):123-38. doi: 10.1016/s0272-5231(05)70131-3.


Since it was first used 70 years ago, brachytherapy has become an effective tool in the treatment with tracheal bronchial malignancy including primary and recurrent bronchogenic carcinoma and metastatic carcinoma. The technique has evolved from interstitial implantation of radioactive sources directly to the tumor using rigid bronchoscopy to intraluminal placement of a radioactive source into a polyethylene afterloading catheter placed using FB. Intraluminal brachytherapy is effective in palliating complications caused by malignant endobronchial tumors such as dyspnea, hemoptysis, intractable cough, atelectasis, and postobstructive pneumonia. Brachytherapy may be combined with external beam radiation, Nd:YAG laser therapy, and chemotherapy to enhance the palliative treatments of patients. The risk of severe complications from brachytherapy may be caused more by location of tumor being treated rather than those fractionations scheme. When tumor involves the mainstem bronchi and upper lobes, it seems prudent to obtain CT to exclude tumor invasion of the pulmonary arteries or considerable destruction of the bronchial wall and mediastinal invasion of the tumor. Patients with findings such as these should not be treated with endobronchial brachytherapy or treated with LDR brachytherapy. Brachytherapy is proved to be effective and a safe palliative treatment for endobronchial malignancies, but further investigations are necessary to determine the optimal dose scheme and its efficiency in bronchogenic carcinoma and combined with external beam radiation therapy or surgery or other endobronchial procedures such as Nd:YAG laser or cryotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Airway Obstruction / therapy*
  • Brachytherapy / methods*
  • Bronchial Neoplasms / complications
  • Bronchial Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bronchial Neoplasms / therapy
  • Bronchoscopes
  • Bronchoscopy*
  • Cryotherapy / methods*
  • Electrocoagulation / methods*
  • Fiber Optic Technology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome