Use of the Leksell Gamma Knife for localized small field lens irradiation in rodents.
ABSTRACT For most basic radiobiological research applications involving irradiation of small animals, it is difficult to achieve the same high precision dose distribution realized with human radiotherapy. The precision for irradiations performed with standard radiotherapy equipment is +/-2 mm in each dimension, and is adequate for most human treatment applications. For small animals such as rodents, whose organs and tissue structures may be an order of magnitude smaller than those of humans, the corresponding precision required is closer to +/-0.2 mm, if comparisons or extrapolations are to be made to human data. The Leksell Gamma Knife is a high precision radiosurgery irradiator, with precision in each dimension not exceeding 0.5 mm, and overall precision of 0.7 mm. It has recently been utilized to treat ocular melanoma and induce targeted lesions in the brains of small animals. This paper describes the dosimetry and a technique for performing irradiation of a single rat eye and lens with the Gamma Knife while allowing the contralateral eye and lens of the same rat to serve as the "control". The dosimetry was performed with a phantom in vitro utilizing a pinpoint ion chamber and thermoluminescent dosimeters, and verified by Monte Carlo simulations. We found that the contralateral eye received less than 5% of the administered dose for a 15 Gy exposure to the targeted eye. In addition, after 15 Gy irradiation 15 out of 16 animals developed cataracts in the irradiated target eyes, while 0 out of 16 contralateral eyes developed cataracts over a 6-month period of observation. Experiments at 5 and 10 Gy also confirmed the lack of cataractogenesis in the contralateral eye. Our results validate the use of the Gamma Knife for cataract studies in rodents, and confirmed the precision and utility of the instrument as a small animal irradiator for translational radiobiology experiments.