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February 1989

Are Complications in Intraoperative Radiation Therapy More Frequent Than in Conventional Treatment?

Author Affiliations

From the Surgery (Drs Cromack, Hoekstra, and Sindelar and Ms Maher) and Radiation Oncology (Dr Kinsella) Branches, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Surg. 1989;124(2):229-234. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1989.01410020103017

• To evaluate whether intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) results in higher complication rates than conventional radiotherapy, 119 patients were studied who entered four prospectively randomized clinical trials that compared IORT with conventional therapy. Malignant neoplasms included 33 gastric carcinomas, 35 retroperitoneal sarcomas, 22 resectable pancreatic cancers, and 29 unresectable pancreatic cancers. One hundred thirty-six complications developed among 66 patients who received conventional therapy, and 108 complications developed among 53 patients who received IORT. There was no statistical significance between treatment groups with respect to the overall incidence of complications. Analysis of types of complications by tumor type using Fisher's exact test revealed only one significant complication: an increased rate of sepsis among the patients with retroperitoneal sarcoma who received conventional therapy compared with their IORT cohorts. The overall complication rate associated with IORT was equivalent to conventional radiotherapy in the treatment of these malignant neoplasms and supported the use of IORT where clinically indicated.

(Arch Surg 1989;124:229-234)