Objective: To evaluate the use of 3-dimensional (3D) ultrasonography for the localization of episcleral eye plaques during the treatment of choroidal melanomas. Methods: A series of 13 patients with choroidal melanoma were treated with radioactive palladium 103 seeds affixed into gold eye plaques. During surgery, 3D ultrasonography was performed with a commercially available system to evaluate the relative position of radioactive plaques secured beneath their intraocular tumors. This system consists of an automated, rotating, handheld, B-scan ultrasonographic probe operating at 10 MHz, a personal computer, and 3D imaging software. Results: We measured the margins of the plaque extending beyond the tumor and the distance between the radioactive seeds and the tumor apex. We also evaluated the relationship between the plaque edge, the episclera, and the tumor's edges. While the plaques were well centered over the tumor in all cases, the plaque margins around the tumor were found to be variably sized. When comparing measurements taken at the time of plaque insertion with those taken at the time of plaque removal, we noted changes in the apical tumor height and in plaque centration. In the 1 patient with a juxtapapillary tumor, the posterior margin of the plaque was found to be displaced away from the sclera, or 'tilted.' Conclusions: Three dimensional ultrasonography offers a new method for ophthalmic plaque localization. Unique perspectives can be visualized through the use of computer aided 3D reconstructions that permit the assessment of the relative position of the plaque to the optic nerve and the measurement of the distance between the in vivo radioactive seed and the tumor apex. Our experience suggests that when compared with 2-dimensional ultrasonography, 3D ultrasonography offers new capabilities that can be used to improve plaque placement and radiation dose calculations.
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