Plaque brachytherapy for posterior uveal melanoma in 2018: improved techniques and expanded indications

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Purpose of review

Plaque brachytherapy remains the dominant globe-sparing therapy of uveal melanoma. This report highlights recent advances, which have expanded plaque brachytherapy's uses as well as improved the surgical technique.

Recent findings

Plaque brachytherapy is effective for tumors that may previously have demanded enucleation. Plaque brachytherapy can be used to control large melanomas as well as melanomas touching the optic nerve. Improvements in planning and design have made plaque therapy simpler for the surgical operator and may reduce collateral radiation damage to normal ocular structures. The COMS implies a required dose of 85 Gy to the tumor apex for treatment of uveal melanoma. However, multiple reports indicate that lower doses may be equally effective for tumor control while reducing radiation dose to uninvolved structures. Vitreoretinal surgeons can be called upon safely to treat long-term side effects of radiation or tumor death such as intractable vitreous hemorrhage or inflammation. Further, vitreoretinal surgeons have employed tumor endoresection as primary local tumor control or in combination with plaque brachytherapy.


Plaque brachytherapy for uveal melanoma remains highly effective for local tumor control and prevention of metastasis. Indications for plaque brachytherapy have expanded, and the technique has improved.

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