What is Deep Inspiration Breath Hold?

DIBH is a breathing technique that involves a patient taking and holding a deep breath while radiation therapy is delivered. It is combined with special imaging equipment to monitor tiny movements of the patient’s body.1

When a person takes a deep breath, their chest expands, and their heart and lungs move away from the chest wall and the field of radiation. DIBH aims to minimise radiation exposure to the heart and lungs and can be used when treating certain types of cancers located in the breast, chest, or abdominal area.1,2

How does DIBH work?

  • Before treatment begins, patients have a planning session with a radiation therapist. The radiation therapist will instruct the patient on how to perform the DIBH, and then will take a detailed computed tomography (CT) scan to see exactly what position the heart, lungs, and liver are in during the DIBH. This CT will be used to plan where the radiation dose will be targeted.2
  • At each treatment session, the radiation therapist will use this initial CT scan and the specialised monitoring equipment to position the patient in exactly the right way for treatment.2
  • During each treatment session, the patient will take a deep breath and hold it for 20 to 30 seconds while the radiation is delivered.3 The patient will need to do the DIBH two or three times during each treatment session.4 It may be useful for patients to practice this breathing technique before their first treatment session to make sure they can hold their breath long enough.4
  • During radiation therapy with DIBH, the patient remains in control of their breathing. The specialised monitoring equipment makes sure that the radiation is only delivered when the patient is completely still. If the patient moves even slightly out of position or releases their breath early, the radiation beam will automatically turn off.4

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This website is provided for information purposes only. Nothing on this website is intended to be used as medical advice or, to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It should not be used as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.

Any medical procedure or treatment involving the use of radiation carries risks, including skin irritation and associated pain. Before proceeding with treatment, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the treatment with an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Individual treatment outcomes and experiences will vary.