What to Expect In Total Body Irradiation
Total body irradiation (TBI)
is a procedure in which the entire body is subjected to radiotherapy. Despite the description of an entire body irradiation, the lungs are partly safeguarded to prevent penetration of radioactive rays.
Purpose and indication of TBI:
- The main purpose of TBI is to condition or prepare the body before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).
- TBI aims at suppressing or destroying the immune response of the recipient, so that the donor’s bone marrow is not rejected by the body.
- High doses of TBI can also ensure the destruction of any cancer cells that are still remaining within the system, thus clearing the way for successful implantation of donor bone marrow.
Facts About the Procedure:
The procedure is usually done in sitting posture, and is done in phases. The schedule is decided by the hospital that manages the procedure. Both sides of the body are treated in different phases.
Acute Symptoms After Total Body Irradiation:
TBI will certainly lead to a variety of acute and long term symptoms. The intensity and incidence will differ from patient to patient, but some commonly occurring acute symptoms are listed below:
- Pain in the parotid glands
- Loose and diarrheic stools
- Rashes and redness of the skin
- Dryness of the oral cavity
- Falling of hair
- Sleepiness or even somnolence (prolonged periods of sleep) in some patients
All these effects tend to improve within a short time, but as days pass certain new long term effects may crop up.
Long Term Effects on the Body after TBI:
Long term effects may come on after 3-6 months or more after receiving TBI. Few of the chronic after effects are listed below:
- Damage to internal organs like Lungs or Kidneys
- Cataracts in the eye
- Delayed development, growth retardations and problems with learning in children who receive
total body irradiation
- Increased risk of developing leukemia