Date of Award

Winter 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Gary E. Copeland

Committee Member

Gail E. Dodge

Committee Member

Raymond K. Wu

Committee Member

Charles E. Hyde-Wright

Committee Member

Frank A. Lattanzio


The work presented here is applied physics research in the field of radiation treatment. We address the development of a new and innovative method, in vivo and possibly non-invasive, for tumor and healthy tissues control during and after the radiation treatment. The radiation treatment is delivered in an almost standardized manner for particular classes of tumors. The large variance in the individual radio sensitivity of healthy tissues and tumors often leads to local recurrence of neoplastic growth and/or distant metastatic disease which often remains untreated. The method is based on the measurement and analysis of electrical impedance data in the frequency domain from 50 mHz to 1MHz. The dielectric signature of the tissue carries information about the integrity of the plasma membrane, as well as about the tissue micro-architecture. We present dielectric models for biological materials and correlate their parameters with the subtle changes characterizing oncosis or apoptosis occurring as result of radiation or excision. Five tissue types (blood, kidney, liver, lung and heart) were studied and specific impedance models were created for each of them. Based on these models, analysis of freshly excised tissue and radiation-induced effects in excised tissue was carried out and model parameters extracted. The data we present shows correlation between known mechanisms of cellular death and the delivery of radiation, thus making possible a quantification of the individual response. Further work will be needed in order to correlate early impedance changes with late tissue changes characterizing the side effects of the radiotherapy.


Additional dissertation committee member: Linda L. Vahala