This study is assessing the effectiveness of a new method for guiding the placement of radioactive sources into spinal tumors that have returned or persisted despite prior external beam radiation therapy. The implantation of radioactive seeds into a tumor is called brachytherapy. It is a means of applying concentrated radiation directly to tumor tissue to kill cancer cells while sparing nearby healthy tissue. For patients with recurrent tumors in the spine, this approach has been shown to help relieve pain.
The method being evaluated in this study is called “image-guided surgical navigation.” It uses images of the patient’s spine taken both before and during the brachytherapy procedure and a tracking system built into the doctors’ instruments to see exactly where the instruments are in the patient’s body without having to make large incisions. It is hoped that this system can facilitate the placement of brachytherapy catheters into spinal tumors, enhancing the effectiveness of therapy while decreasing the exposure of healthy tissue to radiation.