Peripheral neuropathies following experimental intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT)

Richard A Lecouteur, E. L. Gillette, B. E. Powers, G. Child, S. L. McChesney, J. T. Ingram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Injury to peripheral nerves in the lumbar para-aortic region was evaluated in beagle dogs 2 years following fractionated irradiation (EBRT), intraoperative irradiation (IORT), or a combination of IORT and EBRT. Time to onset of peripheral neuropathy was determined by means of serially completed neurological and electrophysiological examinations. Peripheral neuropathies were seen beginning as early as 6 months following 35 Gy (or greater) IORT only and 35 Gy plus 50 Gy EBRT. The incidence of peripheral neuropathies increased with increasing IORT doses beginning at 15 Gy. Onsets of peripheral neuropathies following IORT alone were clustered between 6 and 18 months, with onset in some dogs occurring as late as 24 months. The combination of IORT and EBRT resulted in an incidence and latency to onset of neuropathies similar to that seen with IORT alone. Neuropathies were not seen with EBRT alone at doses from 50 Gy to 80 Gy. Recovery of nerve function did not occur in affected dogs. Histological studies of nerves 2 years following irradiation demonstrated loss of axons and myelin, with a corresponding increase in endoneurial, perineurial, and epineurial connective tissue. Percentage of axon and myelin decreased to about 60% of normal at 15 Gy IORT, and additionally at higher doses. An insignificant decrease in percentage of axon and myelin was seen following EBRT alone. A significant lesion occurring in and around nerves at most IORT doses was necrosis and hyalinization of the media of small arteries and arterioles. The dose for a 50% probability for causing severe vessel lesions in the 2-year study was 19.5 Gy IORT only and 18.7 Gy when IORT was combined with EBRT. These lesions were not seen with any EBRT only dose. These studies suggest that peripheral nerve is a dose limiting normal tissue in IORT. Neuropathies appear to result from direct effects of irradiation on nerve and secondary effects to nerve resulting from damage to regional vasculature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-590
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Canine
  • Intraoperative irradiation
  • Late effects
  • Peripheral neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


Dive into the research topics of 'Peripheral neuropathies following experimental intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this