Brachial Plexus Tolerance to Single-Session SABR in a Pig Model

Brian Hrycushko, Albert J. van der Kogel, Lauren Phillips, Avneesh Chhabra, Michael R Folkert, James W. Sayre, Steven Vernino, Nima Hassan-Rezaeian, Yoshiya Yamada, Robert Timmerman, Paul M. Medin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The single-session dose tolerance of the spinal nerves has been observed to be similar to that of the spinal cord in pigs, counter to the perception that peripheral nerves are more tolerant to radiation. This pilot study aims to obtain a first impression of the single-session dose-response of the brachial plexus using pigs as a model. Methods and Materials: Ten Yucatan minipigs underwent computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging for treatment planning, followed by single-session stereotactic ablative radiotherapy. A 2.5-cm length of the left-sided brachial plexus cords was irradiated. Pigs were distributed in 3 groups with prescription doses of 16 (n = 3), 19 (n = 4), and 22 Gy (n = 3). Neurologic status was assessed by observation for changes in gait and electrodiagnostic examination. Histopathologic examination was performed with light microscopy of paraffin-embedded sections stained with Luxol fast blue/periodic acid-Schiff and Masson's trichrome. Results: Seven of the 10 pigs developed motor deficit to the front limb of the irradiated side, with a latency from 5 to 8 weeks after irradiation. Probit analysis of the maximum nerve dose yields an estimated ED50 of 19.3 Gy for neurologic deficit, but the number of animals was insufficient to estimate 95% confidence intervals. No motor deficits were observed at a maximum dose of 17.6 Gy for any pig. Nerve conduction studies showed an absence of sensory response in all responders and absent or low motor response in most of the responders (71%). All symptomatic pigs showed histologic lesions to the left-sided plexus consistent with radiation-induced neuropathy. Conclusions: The single-session ED50 for symptomatic plexopathy in Yucatan minipigs after irradiation of a 2.5-cm length of the brachial plexus cords was determined to be 19.3 Gy. The dose-response curve overlaps that of the spinal nerves and the spinal cord in the same animal model. The relationship between the brachial plexus tolerance in pigs and humans is unknown, and caution is warranted when extrapolating for clinical use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-571
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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