Total Body Irradiation
Total Body Irradiation (TBI) is a form of Radiotherapy used in the treatment of blood related cancers such as some types of leukaemia. TBI is often given in conjunction with chemotherapy as part of the preparation for a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant.
A course of TBI treatment is usually given twice a day over 2-3 days, with the treatments being at least 6 hours apart. The Radiation Oncologist will discuss this with each individual patient and then prescribe the dose and the number of treatments most suitable.
The purpose of TBI is to:
What happens prior to Treatment?
TBI patients are admitted into hospital (typically the haematology ward at RPAH) before treatment begins. Often patients are escorted over to the Radiation Oncology department by the haematology staff to familiarise themselves with the treatment staff and equipment prior to the first TBI treatment.
Prior to each treatment the patient must have their temperature checked. This is done by the Nursing staff in Radiation Oncology. Each day a team of Radiation Therapists and Medical Physicists will place a number of small measuring devices called thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) at various points on the patient’s body in order to ensure that the dose prescribed by the Radiation Oncologist is received at every treatment. These TLDs will be taped to the skin before each treatment. An additional radiation measuring device called an ion chamber will also be placed between the patient’s legs and secured with tape. The patient will then be placed in the treatment position inside a custom built TBI box/bed.
To ensure the radiation dose is distributed throughout the body evenly, the Radiation Therapists and Medical Physicists will place plates of perspex plastic around the body - particularly in the head and neck region. These plates may be close to the head but will not touch the patient.
What happens during Treatment?
Once inside the treatment room, the TBI bed is raised to the correct treatment height and moved into position. When the treatment setup is complete, the Radiation Therapists and Physicists will leave the room and monitor the patient via a close circuit TV. As with all Radiotherapy treatments it is very important that the patient is as still as possible during the actual treatment.
When the treatment machine is turned on, the machine will make a buzzing noise but will not cause the patient to see or feel anything. When the treatment reaches half-way the treatment machine will stop and the treatment bed will be turned around so the other side of the body can be treated.
Each treatment lasts approximately 40-60 minutes. However, the radiation beam will not be on the whole time the patient is in the room. Most of the time is used to set up the measuring devices and set the treatment bed into position.
Treatment Side effects
Due to individual treatment regimes and medical circumstances, side effects will vary from person to person. Individuals should speak to their Radiation Oncologist or Radiation Therapist should they experiences any problems.
[Any further concerns speak to your doctor or nursing staff in the department]