Dosimetric impact of the AeroForm tissue expander in postmastectomy radiation therapy: an ex vivo analysis

Pract Radiat Oncol. Jan-Feb 2015;5(1):e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.prro.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 May 28.


Purpose: To evaluate the effect of the AeroForm (AirXpanders Inc, Palo Alto, CA) tissue expander on the dose distribution in a phantom from a simulated postmastectomy radiation treatment for breast cancer.

Methods and materials: Experiments were conducted to determine the effect on the dose distribution with the metallic reservoir irradiated independently and with the entire AeroForm tissue expander placed on a RANDO phantom (The Phantom Laboratory, Salem, NY). The metallic reservoir was irradiated on a block of solid water with film at various depths ranging from 0 to 8.2 cm from the surface. The intact 400 cc AeroForm was inflated to full capacity and irradiated while positioned on a RANDO phantom, with 12 optically stimulated luminescent dosimeters (OSLDs) placed at clinically relevant expander-tissue interface points.

Results: Film dosimetry with the reservoir perpendicular to film reveals 40% transmission at a depth of 0.7 cm, which increases to 60% at a depth of 8.2 cm. In the parallel position, the results vary depending on which area under the reservoir is examined, indicating that the reservoir is not a uniformly dense object. Testing of the intact expander on the phantom revealed that the average percent difference (measured vs expected dose) was 2.7%, σ = 6.2% with heterogeneity correction and 3.7%, σ = 2.4% without heterogeneity correction. The only position where the OSLD readings were consistently higher than the calculated dose by >5% was at position 1, just deep to the canister at the expander-phantom interface. At this position, the readings varied from 5.2% to 14.5%, regardless of heterogeneity correction.

Conclusions: Film dosimetry demonstrated beam attenuation in the shadow of the metallic reservoir in the expander. This decrease in dose was not reproduced on the intact expander on the phantom designed to replicate a clinical setup.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Film Dosimetry / instrumentation
  • Film Dosimetry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty / methods
  • Mastectomy / methods
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Tissue Expansion Devices*