The effect of titanium stabilization rods on spinal cord radiation dose

Robert H. Liebross, George Starkschall, Pei Fong Wong, John Horton, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Ritsuko Komaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the dosimetric effect of a titanium-rod spinal stabilization system on surrounding tissue, especially the spinal cord. Ion chamber dosimetry was performed for 6- and 18-MV photon beams in a water phantom containing a titanium-rod spinal stabilization system. Isodose curves were obtained in the phantom with and without rods. To assess the ability of a treatment planning system to reproduce the effects of the stabilization system on the radiation dose delivered to surrounding tissue, dose distributions were calculated after appropriate modifications were made in the computed tomography number-to-density conversion table to account for the increased density of the titanium rods. The resultant heterogeneity-corrected plans were compared with uncorrected plans. At a 7-cm depth in the water phantom, corresponding to the depth of the spinal cord, the beam was attenuated by 4% under the rods alone and by 13% rods under the rods with screws for the 6-MV photon beam as compared with curves generated in the absence of rods. The beam was attenuated by 3% and 11%, respectively, for the 18-MV beam. Using anteroposterior (18-MV) and posteroanterior (6-MV) photon beams, with and without heterogeneity correction for the rods, the corrected isodose plan showed an approximately 2% beam attenuation 4 cm anterior to the rods as compared with the uncorrected plan. No significant difference in the spinal cord dose was observed between the 2 plans, however. The titanium-rod spinal stabilization system tested in this study caused a decrease in the dose delivered distal to the rods but did not significantly affect the dose delivered to the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-24
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Dosimetry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Dosimetry
  • Radiation
  • Spinal rods
  • Titanium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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