Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH)

Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH) is a breathing technique developed as part of radiation therapy for breast cancer patients to reduce the potential for incidental damage to the heart. One of the main concerns during radiotherapy treatment, specifically when treating the left breast, is its proximity to the heart, which is also on the left side of the body. Heart tissue can potentially receive some of the radiation dose, possibly causing heart complications. Using DIBH, the heart can be moved away from the radiation beams, minimizing exposure, while ensuring that the breast/chest wall area receives the fully prescribed dose. DIBH is typically used for left-sided breast cancer patients, because radiation to the right breast area should not affect the heart to the same extent.

The DIBH technique requires the patient to deeply inhale and hold air in their lungs for about 20 seconds while the radiation is being delivered. Holding in a deep breath pulls the diaphragm and heart down and out of the radiation beam path.  The patient can breathe normally between treatment doses.

Learn more about the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital.