• Radiologic Technology News

Patients Benefit From Breath Hold Technique

May 31, 2016
A study published in the British Journal of Radiology describes how researchers taught breast cancer patients to safely hold their breath for up to six minutes or more. Remaining motionless for longer periods during radiation therapy treatments could result in shorter procedures, lower overall doses and better tumor targeting.

Dr. Mike Parkes, lead author of the report, said in a news release, “Being able to hit the cancerous tumor accurately is essential to avoid damage to other areas, including the heart muscle. Having a stable chest that we can target in one dose could be invaluable in protecting the surrounding tissue.”

In addition, according to Dr. Parkes, teaching patients to hold their breath for up to five minutes or more is harmless. “Although five minute breath holds may seem astonishing to people, it is perfectly natural and safe for patients. Actually, anyone can do it. Patients are carefully monitored throughout the process and if their oxygen levels drop or their blood pressure rises above a certain level we would step in.”

Fifteen patients undergoing radiation therapy were trained to naturally to raise their blood oxygen levels and reduce their blood carbon dioxide levels by preoxygenation and mechanically induced hypocapnia. The average breath hold of patients after the training was 5.3 minutes, but one 52 year old achieved a surprising hold of 6.6 minutes. 

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