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Study of treatment variation in the radiotherapy of head and neck tumors using a fiber-optic on-line radiotherapy imaging system

, : Study of treatment variation in the radiotherapy of head and neck tumors using a fiber-optic on-line radiotherapy imaging system. International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 21(5): 1327-1336

On-line radiotherapy imaging systems allow convenient daily acquisition of portal images for treatment verification. The information can also be used to study treatment variability. Using a prototype fiber-optic imaging system, we have measured the treatment variation of 17 head and neck patients. Daily digital portal images were acquired for the on-cord left and right lateral fields. Treatment variations were quantified using the Cumulative Verification Image Analysis (CVIA) method developed at our institute. In the CVIA method, daily portal images were aligned according to three anatomical points predefined on a digitized simulation, or prescription, image. After each image alignment, the block position was cumulated in a bit-map and superimposed on the prescription image to give a cumulative verification summary image. Iso-frequency distributions, or contours, of the block overlap were calculated and examined with respect to the prescription treatment area. The range of the treatment variation was large for the 17 patients. On average, separation of the 0% to 100% block overlap contours was about 10 mm, and the 20% to 80%, 5 mm. The block overlap contours were also used to calculate the frequency with which the prescription area as defined on the simulation film had been treated. The fraction of the prescription area treated depended on the accuracy of the treatment setup and patient repositioning, as expected. At best, approximately 95% of the prescribed area was irradiated 100% of the time during the entire course of radiotherapy. At worst, approximately 70% of the prescribed area was irradiated 100% of the time. These results demonstrate that despite immobilization, large setup variation can still occur. Presenting treatment variation data as population averages does not reflect on the large variation that may be observed in the individual patient.


PMID: 1938532

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