How does SD-IORT work?

The SD-IORT technique involves an innovative machine that uses a miniaturised X-ray tube to deliver a single dose of radiotherapy during breast conserving surgery (wide local excision). The radiotherapy is delivered in a concentrated dose where the tumour has been removed, meaning that only the tumour bed and a small amount of tissue will receive radiation dose.

The SD-IORT procedure:

  • Once the surgeon has removed the tumour during the wide local excision procedure, a specially designed inflatable balloon-shaped applicator is placed into the breast tissue in a space called the tumour bed.
  • The balloon applicator is inflated or deflated with water to ensure it fits snugly into the breast tissue. 
  • A small shield is often placed on the chest wall to protect the heart, ribs and lungs from radiation dose.
  • A special x-ray shield is placed over the breast tissue to protect the patient from radiation dose.
  • A tiny X-ray tube, which delivers the radiotherapy, is then threaded through the water filled applicator inside the breast.
  • The treatment radiographer who delivers the radiotherapy and the anaesthetist remain with the patient for the duration of the treatment.
  • The single dose of radiotherapy is delivered in as little as 10 minutes.
  • Once the treatment has finished; the surgeon removes the water filled applicator from the breast and finishes the operation as normal.
  • When the patient wakes up from surgery, the tumour has been removed and their radiotherapy treatment has been completed.

This video animation shows how SD-IORT is delivered: