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Sepe, Susanna; Schaffer, Pamela Manuela; Krimmel, Klaus and Schaffer, Moshe (2007): Irradiation treatment of laryngeal cancer in a patient with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). In: Onkologie, No. 7: pp. 378-380 [PDF, 126kB]


Background: Due to an aging population the incidence of both cardiac and tumor-related illnesses is increasing. A problem may arise if radiotherapy is necessary in close anatomic proximity to an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). These highly precise devices may respond to ionizing radiation with a loss of function or uncontrolled stimulation, with both effects being potentially life threatening. Available guidelines recommend the dose maximum to a pacemaker to be cumulative below 2 Gy. For most patients undergoing radiation therapy of the neck or of the chest this limit is exceeded, thus making a removal of the device and an implantation of an external ICD necessary. Case Report: A patient with severe cardiac problems underwent an implantation of an ICD. However, a recurrence of a laryngeal cancer was diagnosed. The irradiation dose after resection was 60 Gy to the tumor region and 50 Gy to the lymph nodes. Irradiation peakload to the ICD was calculated to be 2.5 Gy. This dose was verified with thermoluminescence measurements. The ICD was externally deactivated during the sessions of irradiation. Device checks demonstrated no malfunction. Conclusion: Even though the dose limits of the ICD of 2 Gy were exceeded, the device demonstrated a regular function during and after radiotherapy.

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