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Radiation oncology information systems (OIS) play a crucial role in radiation therapy by ensuring accurate and safe delivery of treatment. A MOSAIQ OIS system is currently used to support undergraduate radiation therapist training at Queensland University of Technology. This review addresses the rationale for implementation and integration in teaching environments and explores the pedagogical benefits supported by educational theory.
A review of MOSAIQ functionality shows potential to transform learning through the development of authentic and engaging learning tasks. It provides students with an opportunity to learn two-dimensional image matching through the use of digitally reconstructed radiographs and electronic portal images as well as three-dimensional image matching using computed tomography (CBCT) data in a safe learning environment without clinical time pressures. In addition, this provides the students with knowledge of quality assurance (QA) checks through the verification of treatment parameters and the transfer of information from the planning system to the treatment units. However, there are several potential challenges and practical considerations that need to be overcome.
The application of MOSAIQ OIS could potentially transform teaching and learning strategies for student radiation therapists. Increased knowledge and hands-on skills at undergraduate levels in areas such as image matching and QA can be powerful tools to drive the standards of practice a step further.
Peer review of treatment plans has been used to improve planning consistency, decrease the need for replanning and improve quality of care through the safe delivery of high-quality radiotherapy plans. This narrative review summarises the clinical benefits and addresses the implementation of peer review of treatment plans in undergraduate medical dosimetry and radiation therapy training.
There are encouraging results of peer review for advanced treatment planning techniques such as Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy techniques in clinical practice. Peer review can be used as a tool to improve students’ knowledge of organ-at-risk contouring, treatment plan critique and quality assurance. These desirable treatment planning skills can be easily transferred to clinical settings. Moreover, there are several potential pedagogical benefits such as improvement in student engagement, better communication skills and provision of synchronous and asynchronous feedback that can positively impact student success and future employment. However, there are several challenges in facilitating its implementation in university settings.
Embedding skills in peer review of treatment plans at undergraduate teaching level can be a powerful tool to impart clinical treatment planning knowledge. This narrative review provides a basis on which to develop an exploratory study of structured peer review activities in a training environment.
It is common for head and neck patients to be affected by time trend errors as a result of weight loss during a course of radiation treatment. The objective of this planning study was to investigate the impact of weight loss on volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) as well as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for locally advanced head and neck cancer using automatic co-registration of the cone beam computed tomography.
Materials and methods
A retrospective analysis of previously treated IMRT plans for ten patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer was done. A VMAT plan was also produced for all patients. We calculated the dose–volume histograms (DVH) indices for spinal cord planning at risk volumes (PRVs), the brainstem PRVs (SC+0·5 cm and BS+0·5 cm, respectively) as well as mean dose to the parotid glands.
The results show that the mean difference in dose to the SC+0·5 cm was 1·03% and 1·27% for the IMRT and VMAT plans, respectively. As for dose to the BS+0·5, the percentage difference was 0·63% for the IMRT plans and 0·61% for the VMAT plans. The analysis of the parotid gland doses shows that the percentage change in mean dose to left parotid was −8·0% whereas that of the right parotid was −6·4% for the IMRT treatment plans. In the VMAT plans, the percentages change for the left and the right parotid glands were −6·6 and −6·7% respectively.
This study shows a clinically significant impact of weight loss on DVH indices analysed in head and neck organs at risk. It highlights the importance of adaptive radiotherapy in head and neck patients if organ at risk sparing is to be maintained.
This study evaluated the impact of a daily and weekly image-guided radiotherapy protocols in reducing setup errors and setting of appropriate margins in head and neck cancer patients.
Materials and methods
Interfraction and systematic shifts for the hypothetical day 1–3 plus weekly imaging were extrapolated from daily imaging data from 31 patients (964 cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans). In addition, residual setup errors were calculated by taking the average shifts in each direction for each patient based on the first three shifts and were presumed to represent systematic setup error. The clinical target volume (CTV) to planning target volume (PTV) margins were calculated using van Herk formula and analysed for each protocol.
The mean interfraction shifts for daily imaging were 0·8, 0·3 and 0·5 mm in the S-I (superior-inferior), L-R (left-right) and A-P (anterior-posterior) direction, respectively. On the other hand the mean shifts for day 1–3 plus weekly imaging were 0·9, 1·8 and 0·5 mm in the S-I, L-R and A-P direction, respectively. The mean day 1–3 residual shifts were 1·5, 2·1 and 0·7 mm in the S-I, L-R and A-P direction, respectively. No significant difference was found in the mean setup error for the daily and hypothetical day 1–3 plus weekly protocol. However, the calculated CTV to PTV margins for the daily interfraction imaging data were 1·6, 3·8 and 1·4 mm in the S-I, L-R and A-P directions, respectively. Hypothetical day 1–3 plus weekly resulted in CTV–PTV margins of 5, 4·2 and 5 mm in the S-I, L-R and A-P direction.
The results of this study show that a daily CBCT protocol reduces setup errors and allows setup margin reduction in head and neck radiotherapy compared to a weekly imaging protocol.
A retrospective planning study comparing volumetric arc therapy (VMAT) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) treatment plans for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Methods and materials
Five randomly selected early stage lung cancer patients were included in the study. For each patient, four plans were created: the SBRT plan and three VMAT plans using different optimisation methodologies. A total of 20 different plans were evaluated. The dose parameters of dose conformity results and the target dose constraints results were compared for these plans.
The mean planning target volume (PTV) for all the plans (SBRT and VMAT) was 18·3 cm3, with a range from 15·6 to 20·1 cm3. The maximum dose tolerance to 1 cc of all the plans was within 140% (84 Gy) of the prescribed dose, and 95% of the PTV of all the plans received 100% of the prescribed dose (60 Gy). In all the plans, 99% of the PTV received a dose >90% of the prescribed dose, and the mean dose in all the plans ranged from 67 to 72 Gy. The planning target dose conformity for the SBRT and the VMAT (0°, 15° collimator single arc plans and dual arc) plans showed the tightness of the prescription isodose conformity to the target.
SBRT and VMAT are radiotherapy approaches that increase doses to small tumour targets without increasing doses to the organs at risk. Although VMAT offers an alternative to SBRT for NSCLC and the potential advantage of VMAT is the reduced treatment times over SBRT, the statistical results show that there was no significant difference between the SBRT and VMAT optimised plans in terms of dose conformity and organ-at-risk sparing.
Peer-review programmes in radiation oncology are used to facilitate the process and evaluation of clinical decision-making. However, web-based peer-review methods are still uncommon. This study analysed an inter-centre, web-based peer-review case conference as a method of facilitating the decision-making process in radiation oncology.
A benchmark form was designed based on the American Society for Radiation Oncology targets for radiation oncology peer review. This was used for evaluating the contents of the peer-review case presentations on 40 cases, selected from three participating radiation oncology centres. A scoring system was used for comparison of data, and a survey was conducted to analyse the experiences of radiation oncology professionals who attended the web-based peer-review meetings in order to identify priorities for improvement.
The mean scores for the evaluations were 82·7, 84·5, 86·3 and 87·3% for cervical, prostate, breast and head and neck presentations, respectively. The survey showed that radiation oncology professionals were confident about the role of web-based peer-reviews in facilitating sharing of good practice, stimulating professionalism and promoting professional growth. The participants were satisfied with the quality of the audio and visual aspects of the web-based meeting.
The results of this study suggest that simple inter-centre web-based peer-review case conferences are a feasible technique for peer review in radiation oncology. Limitations such as data security and confidentiality can be overcome by the use of appropriate structure and technology. To drive the issues of quality and safety a step further, small radiotherapy departments may need to consider web-based peer-review case conference as part of their routine quality assurance practices.
An emerging developmental tool to help radiation therapists achieve better outcomes is ‘peer review’. This review of the current literature summarises the challenges and benefits of peer review in both individual and departmental practice.
There is compelling evidence supporting peer review implementation at both individual and department level in many professions. Implementing peer review requires that radiation therapists and other radiation oncology professionals embrace a culture that supports safety. Peer review can identify trends and barriers associated with quality radiotherapy and share best practice or recommend changes accordingly. Support for peer review must come from pre-registration educational systems as well as clinical managers. Continuing professional development in the workplace is nurtured by peer review of radiotherapy practice and an aptitude for this should be viewed as important to the profession as technical and clinical skills.
It is clear that peer review has the potential to facilitate reflective practice, improve staff motivation and help foster a culture of quality and safety in radiation oncology. To drive the issues of quality and safety a step further radiation therapists need to accept the challenge of adopting peer review methods in day-to-day practice.
This study evaluated the impact of patient set-up errors on the probability of pulmonary and cardiac complications in the irradiation of left-sided breast cancer.
Methods and materials
Using the CMS XiO Version 4·6 radiotherapy planning system's normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) algorithm and the Lyman–Kutcher–Burman model, we calculated the dose–volume histograms (DVH) indices for the ipsilateral lung and heart and the resultant NTCP for radiation-induced pneumonitis and excess cardiac mortality in 12 left-sided breast cancer patients.
Isocentric shifts in the posterior direction had the greatest effect on the lung V20, heart V25, and mean and maximum doses to the lung and the heart. DVH results show that the ipsilateral lung V20 tolerance was exceeded in 58% of the patients after 1 cm posterior shifts. Similarly, the heart V25 tolerance was exceeded after 1 cm antero-posterior and left–right isocentric shifts in 70% of the patients. The baseline NTCPs for radiation-induced pneumonitis ranged from 0·73% to 3·4%, with a mean value of 1·7%. The maximum reported NTCP for radiation-induced pneumonitis was 5·8% (mean 2·6%) after 1 cm posterior isocentric shift. The NTCP for excess cardiac mortality were 0% in 100% of the patients (n = 12) before and after set-up error simulations.
Set-up errors in left-sided breast cancer patients have a statistically significant impact on the Lung NTCPs and DVH indices. However, with a central lung distance of 3 cm or less (CLD < 3 cm), and a maximum heart distance of 1·5 cm or less (MHD < 1·5 cm), the treatment plans could tolerate set-up errors of up to 1 cm without any change in the NTCP to the heart.
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