Abstract Purpose Accurate patient-specific dosimetry in intravascular brachytherapy (IVBT) is generally difficult due to the extremely high-dose gradient, complexity of treatment device, and patient-specific geometry (e.g., calcification, stent, curvature, movement of target). The purpose of this study is to analyze quantitatively and systematically the dose effects of calcification, stent, guidewire, and source curvature on clinical dosimetry in an IVBT procedure, and propose a method that can be used to assess these effects in routine clinical practice. Methods and materials Monte Carlo techniques were used to calculate 3-D dose distribution in both homogeneous and inhomogeneous media for three most commonly used IVBT sources: 90Sr beta (Novoste), 192Ir gamma (Cordis/Best), and 32P beta (Guidant). Dosimetric perturbations in the presence of metallic stents, calcified plaques, metallic guidewires, and source curvature were studied for situations commonly encountered in the clinic. The importance of each of these perturbations and their practical influence on patient-specific dosimetry were analyzed. Factors (plaque, stent, guidewire, and curvature) that may be used to correct/reduce these perturbations were introduced to prevent dosimetric cold spots during IVBT. Practical methods of using these correction factors are proposed. Results Dose perturbations are significant due to the presence of source curvature, metallic stents, calcified plaques, and metallic guidewires, especially for beta sources. These perturbations can be as high as 30% under normal clinical conditions, although they can be much higher in extreme situations. Empirical relationships of plaque factor with the thickness of calcified plaque, stent factor with stent metallic surface area, guidewire with guidewire thickness, and curvature factor with the bending angle are derived. These relationships are found to be useful in improving clinical dose accuracy in IVBT treatment planning or dose evaluation after treatment. Conclusions Significant dose perturbations due to the presence of source curvature, metallic stents, calcified plaques, and guidewires have been found in IVBT for in-stent restenosis. Because it has been reported that, with the current prescriptions for IVBT, higher doses consistently improve treatment outcomes, the empirical method derived from this work can be used to assess cold spots dosimetrically, thus improving patient-specific dosimetry for IVBT.