Although the physical and biologic principles of radiation therapy have remained relatively unchanged, a technologic renaissance has led to continuous and ever-changing growth in the field of radiation oncology. As a result, medical devices, techniques, and indications have changed considerably during the past 20–30 years. For ex-ample, advances in CT and MRI have revolutionized the treatment planning process for a variety of central nervous system diseases, including primary and metastatic tumors, vascular malformations, and inflammatory diseases. The resultant improved ability to delineate normal from abnormal tissue has enabled radiation oncologists to achieve more precise targeting and helped to mitigate treatment-related complications. Nevertheless, posttreatment complications still occur and can pose a diagnostic challenge for radiologists. These complications can be divided into acute, early-delayed, and late-delayed complications on the basis of the time that they manifest after radiation therapy and include leukoencephalopathy, vascular complications, and secondary neoplasms. The different irradiation technologies and applications of these technologies in the brain, current concepts used in treatment planning, and essential roles of the radiation oncologist in the setting of brain disease are reviewed. In addition, relevant imaging findings that can be used to delineate the extent of disease before treatment, and the expected posttreatment imaging changes are described. Common and uncommon complications related to radiation therapy and the associated imaging manifestations also are discussed. Familiarity with these entities may aid the radiologist in making the diagnosis and help guide appropriate management.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging