External beam radiation therapy is essential in the management of a wide spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions, both benign and malignant, including bony and soft-tissue sarcomas, metastatic tumors, pigmented villonodular synovitis, and heterotopic ossification. Radiation therapy, in combination with surgery, helps reduce the functional loss from cancer resections. Although the field of radiation therapy is firmly rooted in physics and radiation biology, its indications and delivery methods are rapidly evolving. External beam radiation therapy mainly comes in the form of four sources of radiotherapy: protons, photons, electrons, and neutrons. Each type of energy has a unique role in treating various pathologies; however, these energy types also have their own distinctive limitations and morbidities.
Copyright 2015 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.