Modern Tools for Modern Brachytherapy

Publication Name

Clinical Oncology


This review aims to showcase the brachytherapy tools and technologies that have emerged during the last 10 years. Soft-tissue contrast using magnetic resonance and ultrasound imaging has seen enormous growth in use to plan all forms of brachytherapy. The era of image-guided brachytherapy has encouraged the development of advanced applicators and given rise to the growth of individualised 3D printing to achieve reproducible and predictable implants. These advances increase the quality of implants to better direct radiation to target volumes while sparing normal tissue. Applicator reconstruction has moved beyond manual digitising, to drag and drop of three-dimensional applicator models with embedded pre-defined source pathways, ready for auto-recognition and automation. The simplified TG-43 dose calculation formalism directly linked to reference air kerma rate of high-energy sources in the medium water remains clinically robust. Model-based dose calculation algorithms accounting for tissue heterogeneity and applicator material will advance the field of brachytherapy dosimetry to become more clinically accurate. Improved dose-optimising toolkits contribute to the real-time and adaptive planning portfolio that harmonises and expedites the entire image-guided brachytherapy process. Traditional planning strategies remain relevant to validate emerging technologies and should continue to be incorporated in practice, particularly for cervical cancer. Overall, technological developments need commissioning and validation to make the best use of the advanced features by understanding their strengths and limitations. Brachytherapy has become high-tech and modern by respecting tradition and remaining accessible to all.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada



Link to publisher version (DOI)