Thermotherapy for Retinoblastoma

For thermotherapy (also called transpupillary thermal therapy, or TTT), the doctor uses a different type of laser than that used in photocoagulation therapy. The laser applies infrared light to heat and kill the tumor cells. The temperatures are not quite as high as those used in photocoagulation therapy, so some of the blood vessels on the retina may be spared.

Thermotherapy can be used alone for very small tumors. For larger tumors, it can be used along with chemotherapy (called thermochemotherapy) or with radiation therapy (called thermoradiotherapy). Heat seems to help these other treatments work better.

The treatment is given while the child is asleep, usually for about 10 minutes at a time. Typically, 3 treatments about a month apart are needed to control each tumor. When used as part of thermochemotherapy, the heat is usually applied at a lower temperature over a slightly longer period of time, starting within a few hours after chemotherapy.

Possible side effects: Thermotherapy can sometimes cause part of the iris (the colored part of the eye) to shrink. Other possible effects include clouding of part of the eye lens or damage to the retina, which might affect vision.

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Last Medical Review: March 12, 2015 Last Revised: March 12, 2015

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