In the current study by Dong, et al, NIR diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) flow oximetry was investigated for its utility in monitoring oxygenation in enlarged lymph nodes of patients with head and neck cancer. Due to the portability of the monitoring device, oxygenation status was monitored during radiation therapy administration, as well as throughout the 7-week cycle of fractionated radiotherapy. This marks the first report of oxygenation status changes at the time of radiation therapy administration, thus enabling oxygenation detection during a single radiation administration as well as throughout the course of treatment. Phantom studies were completed to quantify artifacts seen from interaction of the radiation beam with the photodiode detectors to optimize probe placement. In the current study, 11 patients were monitored during therapy, producing large inter-patient variation in tumor hemodynamic response. A significant increase in tumor blood flow was found during the first week of radiotherapy, however only small insignificant changes were seen in blood oxygenation levels. Interestingly, all patients monitored in the current study showed complete response to the radiation therapy illustrating the need for study in an increased patient population to determine the prognostic significance of NIR DCS hemodynamic monitoring during radiotherapy.
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