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DESCRIPTIONIntracavitary balloon catheter brain brachytherapy is localized radiation therapy in the brain that requires placement of an inflatable balloon catheter in the surgical cavity, before closing the craniotomy of a resection to remove or debulk a malignant brain mass. A radiation source is then placed in the balloon to expose surrounding brain tissue to radiation, either continuously or in a series of brief treatments. After the patient completes therapy, the radiation source is permanently removed and the balloon catheter is surgically explanted.
At present, the GliaSite® radiation therapy system (GliaSite® RTS; Cytyc Corp.) is the only device marketed in the United States for intracavitary balloon catheter brachytherapy in the brain. It includes a catheter tray with a double balloon catheter and accessories used for implantation; an aqueous saline solution of molecularly bound radioactive iodine [sodium 3-( 125 I) iodo-4-hydroxybenzenesulfonate; Iotrex™] as the radiation source; and an access tray with items used for afterloading and retrieving the radioactive material. One to three weeks after resection and balloon implantation, the Iotrex™ solution is loaded through a subcutaneous port and left in for 3 to 6 days. Prescribed radiation doses are usually 40–60 Gy measured at 0.5–1.0 cm from the balloon surface. The GliaSite® RTS received 510(k) marketing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as substantially equivalent to separately marketed ventricular reservoirs and catheters, manual radionuclide applicator systems, and radionuclide sources.
Diffuse fibrillary astrocytoma is the most common glial brain tumor in adults. It is classified histologically into 3 grades: grade II astrocytoma, grade III anaplastic astrocytoma, and grade IV glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Oligodendrogliomas (ODG) are diffuse neoplasms closely related to diffuse fibrillary astrocytomas clinically and biologically. However, these tumors generally have better prognoses than diffuse astrocytomas, with mean survival times of 10 years versus 2 to 3 years. Also, ODGs apparently are more chemosensitive than astrocytomas. GBM, the most aggressive and chemoresistant astrocytoma, has survival times less than 2 years for most patients.
Treatment of primary brain tumors begins with surgery, with curative intent, or optimal tumor debulking, usually followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Survival after chemoradiotherapy largely depends on the extent of residual tumor after surgery. Therefore, tumors arising in the midline, basal ganglia, or corpus callosum or those arising in the eloquent speech or motor areas of the cortex have a particularly poor outcome since they typically cannot be extensively resected. Recurrence is common after surgery for malignant gliomas, even if followed by chemoradiotherapy, because the tumors are usually diffusely infiltrating and develop resistance to chemotherapy; also, neurotoxicity limits cumulative doses of whole-brain radiation. Chemotherapy regimens for gliomas usually rely on nitrosourea alkylating agents (carmustine or lomustine), temozolamide, procarbazine, and vincristine. The most common regimen, PCV, combines procarbazine, lomustine (also known as CCNU), and vincristine. A biodegradable polymer wafer impregnated with carmustine (Gliadel®; Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) also can be implanted into the surgical cavity as an adjunct to surgery and radiation. It is indicated for newly diagnosed high-grade malignant glioma and for recurrent GBM.
Brain Metastasis from Other Primary Malignancies
Intracranial metastases are a frequent occurrence, seen at autopsy in 10%–30% of deaths from cancer. Lung cancer is the most common source of brain metastasis (relative prevalence, 48%), followed by breast cancer (15%), unknown primary (12%), melanoma (9%), and colon cancer (5%).
Treatment goals in these patients include local control of existing metastases, regional control to prevent growth of undetected metastases, extending the duration of overall survival, and maintaining quality of life. Surgical resection followed by whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) is the mainstay of treatment for patients with 1 to 3 operable brain metastases and with adequate performance status and control of extracranial disease. Resection plus WBRT extends the duration of survival, when compared with biopsy plus WBRT. Although adding WBRT to resection does not increase overall survival duration, it reduces local and distant recurrence of brain metastases. Thus, WBRT decreases the incidence of death from neurological causes, and may help maintain adequate quality of life, if the cumulative dose does not cause unacceptable neurotoxicity.
POLICYIntracavitary balloon catheter brain brachytherapy is considered investigational, alone or as part of a multimodality treatment regimen, for primary or recurrent malignant tumors.
Intracavitary balloon catheter brain brachytherapy also is considered investigational, alone or as part of a multimodality treatment regimen, for metastasis to the brain from primary solid tumors outside the brain.
POLICY EXCEPTIONSFederal Employee Program (FEP) may dictate that all FDA-approved devices, drugs or biologics may not be considered investigational and thus these devices may be assessed only on the basis of their medical necessity.
POLICY GUIDELINESInvestigative service is defined as the use of any treatment procedure, facility, equipment, drug, device, or supply not yet recognized by certifying boards and/or approving or licensing agencies or published peer review criteria as standard, effective medical practice for the treatment of the condition being treated and as such therefore is not considered medically necessary.
The coverage guidelines outlined in the Medical Policy Manual should not be used in lieu of the Member's specific benefit plan language.
POLICY HISTORY6/8/2007: Policy added
7/25/2007: Reviewed and approved by the Medical Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC)
12/31/2008: Code Reference section updated per 2009 CPT/HCPCS revisions
1/06/2009: Policy reviewed. No changes.
04/27/2010: Policy statement updated to make minor wording changes. In the first statement, "gliomas" was changed to "tumors." In the second statement, "malignancies" was changed to "solid tumors." Intent of the statements unchanged. FEP verbiage added to the Policy Exceptions section.
06/22/2011: Policy reviewed; no changes.
05/09/2012: Policy reviewed; no changes.
08/09/2013: Policy reviewed; no changes.
SOURCE(S)Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Policy # 8.01.45
CODE REFERENCEThis may not be a comprehensive list of procedure codes applicable to this policy.