Immobilisation for patients undergoing brain or head and neck radiotherapy is achieved using perspex or thermoplastic devices that require direct moulding to patient anatomy. The mould room visit can be distressing for patients and the shells do not always fit perfectly. In addition the mould room process can be time consuming. With recent developments in three-dimensional (3D) printing technologies comes the potential to generate a treatment shell directly from a computer model of a patient. Typically, a patient requiring radiotherapy treatment will have had a computed tomography (CT) scan and if a computer model of a shell could be obtained directly from the CT data it would reduce patient distress, reduce visits, obtain a close fitting shell and possibly enable the patient to start their radiotherapy treatment more quickly.
This paper focuses on the first stage of generating the front part of the shell and investigates the dosimetric properties of the materials to show the feasibility of 3D printer materials for the production of a radiotherapy treatment shell.
Computer algorithms are used to segment the surface of the patient’s head from CT and MRI datasets. After segmentation approaches are used to construct a 3D model suitable for printing on a 3D printer. To ensure that 3D printing is feasible the properties of a set of 3D printing materials are tested.
The majority of the possible candidate 3D printing materials tested result in very similar attenuation of a therapeutic radiotherapy beam as the Orfit soft-drape masks currently in use in many UK radiotherapy centres. The costs involved in 3D printing are reducing and the applications to medicine are becoming more widely adopted. In this paper we show that 3D printing of bespoke radiotherapy masks is feasible and warrants further investigation.
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