Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH)

Deep inspiration breath hold is a radiation therapy technique. It is available for patients to use. It involves taking a deep breath during treatment. You then hold this breath while we deliver the radiation. By taking a deep breath in, your lungs fill with air and your heart will move away from your chest

Deep Inspiration Breath Hold can be useful when you need radiation therapy in your chest region. It lets us avoid radiation doses to your heart. 

What do we use Deep Inspiration Breath Hold for? 

DIBH is a technique that we can show you to use. It can reduce the amount of radiation your heart gets. We may ask you to use DIBH when you have treatment for: 

  • Left-sided breast cancer 
  • Lymphoma in your chest region 
  • Tumours of your chest or upper abdomen

DIBH is one of the many ways we can reduce the radiation dose to your heart. The natural position of the heart varies a lot between people. As a result, your radiation therapy team will assess your suitability. 

Download the DIBH info sheet to help you learn the deep inspiration breath hold technique.

What does Deep Inspiration Breath Hold mean to you? 

During Deep Inspiration Breath Hold we ask you to hold your breath for up to 20 seconds. This is easy for you after some practice. 

We only turn on the radiation beam when we direct you to take a deep breath in. As you take a deep breath in, your heart moves away from the treatment area.

The DIBH team 

We deliver Deep Inspiration Breath Hold techniques at our five radiation therapy sites. These sites are in Melbourne, Bendigo, Box Hill, Moorabbin, and Sunshine

We have a team of specialists to plan and deliver DIBH. This team includes radiation oncologists, radiation therapists and medical physicists. Other professionals including nurses and allied health practitioners will support you. We are proud to offer this treatment. We continue to develop and progress this treatment choice for our patients. 

Speak with your doctor to decide if DIBH is the right treatment choice for you. 

How to practice your DIBH at home

  1. Lie on your back on your bed or on the floor  
  2. Use a pillow to support your knees and head
  3. Place your arms above your head - like the radiation treatment position
  4. When you are ready, take a slow deep breath in. Your back should not lift from your bed when you take a deep breath in 
  5. Try holding your breath for a few seconds and lasting a little longer each time. Work your way up to 20 seconds in total  
  6. When you are ready and confident, take a slow deep breath in and hold your breath for at least 20 seconds 
  7. Slowly breathe out
  8. Return to your normal breathing  
  9. Once you feel you have returned to your normal breathing, it is time to try again  

Practice Deep Inspiration Breath Hold a few times daily. Remember to relax, focus on your breathing, and most take it at your own pace. Your radiation therapy team will be there to help and coach you. 

Related pages

Related links

DIBH: Techniques and Advantages for Cardiac Sparing During Breast Cancer Irradiation