Brachytherapy of recurrent malignant brain tumors with removable high-activity iodine-125 sources
Thirty-seven patients harboring recurrent malignant primary or metastatic brain tumors were treated by 40 implantations of high-activity iodine-125 (125I) sources. All patients had been treated with irradiation and most had been treated with chemotherapeutic agents, primarily nitrosoureas. Implantations were performed using computerized tomography (CT)-directed stereotaxy; 125I sources were held in one or more afterloaded catheters that were removed after the desired dose (minimum tumor dose of 3000 to 12,000 rads) had been delivered. Patients were followed with sequential neurological examinations and CT scans. Results of 34 implantation procedures were evaluable: 18 produced documented tumor regression (response) for 4 to 13+ months; five, performed in deteriorating patients, resulted in disease stability for 4 to 12 months. The overall response rate was 68%. In 11 patients, implantation did not halt clinical deterioration. At exploratory craniotomy 5 to 12 months after implantation, focal radiation necrosis was documented in two patients whose tumor had responded initially and then progressed, and in three patients whose disease had progressed initially (four glioblastomas, one anaplastic astrocytoma); histologically identifiable tumor was documented in two of these patients. All improved after resection of the focal necrotic mass and are still alive 10, 15, 19, 24, and 25 months after the initial implantation procedure; only one patient has evidence of tumor regrowth. The median follow-up period after implantation for the malignant glioma (anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma multiforme) group is 9 months, with 48% of patients still surviving. While direct comparison with the results of chemotherapy is difficult, results obtained in this patient group with interstitial brachytherapy are probably superior to results obtained with chemotherapy.