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Radiation sparing of cerebral cortex in brain tumor patients using quantitative neuroimaging


Background and purpose

Neurocognitive decline in brain tumor patients treated with radiotherapy (RT) may be linked to cortical atrophy. We developed models to determine radiation treatment-planning objectives for cortex, which were tested on a sample population to identify the dosimetric cost of cortical sparing.

Material and methods

The relationship between the probability of cortical atrophy in fifteen high-grade glioma patients at 1-year post-RT and radiation dose was fit using logistic mixed effects modeling. Cortical sparing was implemented using two strategies: region-specific sparing using model parameters, and non-specific sparing of all normal brain tissue.


A dose threshold of 28.6 Gy was found to result in a 20% probability of severe atrophy. Average cortical sparing at 30 Gy was greater for region-specific dose avoidance (4.6%) compared to non-specific (3.6%). Cortical sparing resulted in an increase in heterogeneity index of the planning target volume (PTV) with an average increase of 1.9% (region-specific) and 0.9% (non-specific).


We found RT doses above 28.6 Gy resulted in a greater than 20% probability of cortical atrophy. Cortical sparing can be achieved using region-specific or non-specific dose avoidance strategies at the cost of an increase in the dose heterogeneity of the PTV.

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