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At The London Clinic we are able to offer a specialist breathing technique called respiratory gating. This may be used for patients having radiotherapy to the left breast or left chest wall although the technique can be used for other treatment sites. 

Breast/chest wall 

If you need to receive radiotherapy to your left breast or left chest wall there is a possibility that your heart may be close to the treatment area. The heart is situated to the left side of the chest, but it varies in exact position for each person. 

Respiratory gating is a special breathing technique which involves holding your breath at planned times. 

Holding your breath when breathing in, increases the air in your lungs, which moves the chest wall away from the heart and this technique may help to minimise the radiation dose to the heart and it is called Deep Inspiration Breath Hold. (DIBH).

During your CT appointment, the radiographer will place a small lightweight reflective box on your chest. This together with infra-red camera will monitor your breathing and helps assess your suitability for respiratory gating. 

You will be asked to hold your breath for around 20 seconds. We may ask you to wear a pair of special glasses. These glasses act as a visual aid to your breathing. 

Chest and abdomen radiotherapy 

If you are having treatment to your chest or abdomen, breath hold treatment may also be considered. 

This is because internal organs in the chest and abdomen may move with breathing, Breath hold treatment either breathing in or breathing out, (expiration breath hold) may help to reduce the area we treat and target the treatment site more accurately. 

If you are referred for breath hold treatment, the radiographer will monitor your breathing and asses your suitability for breath hold treatment as stated above. 

The consultant and the planning team will review the scans and you breathing  and decide if the breath hold treatment is of benefit or not. 

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