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A comprehensive and robust computer database was built to record and analyse the medical physics on-call data in emergency radiotherapy. The probability distributions of the on-call events varying with day and week were studied.
Materials and methods:
Variables of medical physics on-call events such as date and time of the event, number of event per day/week/month, treatment site of the event and identity of the on-call physicist were input to a programmed Excel file. The Excel file was linked to the MATLAB platform for data transfer and analysis. The total number of on-call events per day in a week and per month in a year were calculated based on the physics on-call data in 2010–18. In addition, probability distributions of on-call events varying with days in a week (Monday–Sunday) and months (January–December) in a year were determined.
For the total number of medical physics on-call events per week in 2010–18, it was found that the number was similar from Sundays to Thursdays but increased significantly on Fridays before the weekend. The total number of events in a year showed that the physics on-call events increased gradually from January up to March, then decreased in April and slowly increased until another peak in September. The number of events decreased in October from September, and increased again to reach another peak in December. It should be noted that March, September and December are months close to Easter, Labour Day and Christmas, when radiation staff usually take long holidays.
A database to record and analyse the medical physics on-call data was created. Different variables such as the number of events per week and per year could be plotted. This roster could consider the statistical results to prepare a schedule with better balance of workload compared with scheduling it randomly. Moreover, the emergency radiotherapy team could use the analysed results to enhance their budget/resource allocation and strategic planning.
Dose distribution index (DDI) is a treatment planning evaluation parameter, reflecting dosimetric information of target coverage that can help to spare organs at risk (OARs) and remaining volume at risk (RVR). The index has been used to evaluate and compare prostate volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) plans using two different plan optimisers, namely photon optimisation (PO) and its predecessor, progressive resolution optimisation (PRO).
Materials and methods:
Twenty prostate VMAT treatment plans were created using the PO and PRO in this retrospective study. The 6 MV photon beams and a dose prescription of 78 Gy/39 fractions were used in plans with the same dose–volume criteria for plan optimisation. Dose–volume histograms (DVHs) of the planning target volume (PTV), as well as of OARs such as the rectum, bladder, left and right femur were determined in each plan. DDIs were calculated and compared for plans created by the PO and PRO based on DVHs of the PTV and all OARs.
The mean DDI values were 0·784 and 0·810 for prostate VMAT plans created by the PO and PRO, respectively. It was found that the DDI of the PRO plan was about 3·3% larger than the PO plan, which means that the dose distribution of the target coverage and sparing of OARs in the PRO plan was slightly better. Changing the weighting factors in different OARs would vary the DDI value by ∼7%. However, for plan comparison based on the same set of dose–volume criteria, the effect of weighting factor can be neglected because they were the same in the PO and PRO.
Based on the very similar DDI values calculated from the PO and PRO plans, with the DDI value in the PRO plan slightly larger than that of the PO, it may be concluded that the PRO can create a prostate VMAT plan with slightly better dose distribution regarding the target coverage and sparing of OARs. Moreover, we found that the DDI is a simple and comprehensive dose–volume parameter for plan evaluation considering the target, OARs and RVR.
This study reported the justification and selection of acceptable γ criteria with respect to low (6 MV) and high (15 MV) photon beams for intensity-modulated radiation therapy quality assurance (IMRT QA) using the Gafchromic external beam therapy 3 (EBT3) film.
Materials and methods
Five-field step-and-shoot IMRT was used to treat 16 brain IMRT patients using the dual-energy DHX-S linear accelerator (Varian Medical System, Palo Alto, CA, USA). Dose comparisons between computed values of the treatment planning system (TPS) and Gafchromic EBT3 film were evaluated based on γ analysis using the Film QA Pro software. The dose distribution was analysed with gamma area histograms (GAHs) generated using different γ criteria (3%/2 mm, 3%/3 mm and 5%/3 mm) for the 6 and 15 MV photon beams, to optimise the best distance-to-agreement (DTA) criteria with respect to the beam energy.
From the comparison between the dose distributions acquired from the TPS and EBT3 film, a DTA criterion of 3%/2 mm showed less dose differences (DDs) with passing rates up to 93% for the 6 MV photon beams, while for the 15 MV a relaxed DTA criterion of 5%/3 mm was consistent with the DD acceptability criteria with a 95% passing rate.
Our results suggested that high-energy photon beams required relaxed DTA criteria for the brain IMRT QA, while low-energy photon beams showed better results even with tight DTA criteria.
Accurate three-dimensional dosimetry is essential in modern radiotherapy techniques such as volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). In this research work, the PRESAGE® dosimeter was used as quality assurance (QA) tool for VMAT planning for head and neck (H&N) cancer.
Material and method
Computer tomography (CT) scans of an Image Radiation Oncology Core (IROC) H&N anthropomorphic phantom with both IROC standard insert and PRESAGE® insert were acquired separately. Both CT scans were imported into the Pinnacle (9.4 version) TPS for treatment planning, where the structures [planning target volume (PTV), organs at risk) and thermoluminescent detectors (TLDs) were manually contoured and used to optimise a VMAT plan. Treatment planning was done using VMAT (dual arc: 182°–178°, 178°–182°). Beam profile comparisons and gamma analysis were used to quantify agreement with film, PRESAGE® measurement and treatment planning system (TPS) calculated dose distribution.
The average ratio of TLD measured to calculated doses at the four PTV locations in the H&N phantom were between 0·95 to 0·99 for all three VMAT deliveries. Dose profiles were taken along the left–right, the anterior–posterior and superior–inferior axes, and good agreement was found between the PRESAGE® and Pinnacle profile. The mean value of gamma results for three VMAT deliveries in axial and sagittal planes were found to be 94·24 and 93·16% when compared with film and Pinnacle, respectively. The average values comparing the PRESAGE® results and dose values calculated on Pinnacle were observed to be 95·29 and 94·38% in the said planes, respectively, using a 5%/3 mm gamma criteria.
The PRESAGE® dose measurements and calculated dose of pinnacle show reasonable agreement in both axial and sagittal planes for complex dual arc VMAT treatment plans. In general, the PRESAGE® dosimeter is found to be a feasible QA tool of VMAT plan for H&N cancer treatment.
Varying the calculation grid size can change the results of dose-volume and radiobiological parameters in a treatment plan, and therefore has an impact on the treatment planning quality assurance.
This study investigated the dosimetric influence of the calculation grid size variation in the prostate volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) plan.
Methods and materials
Dose distributions of 10 prostate VMAT plans were acquired using calculation grid sizes of 1–5 mm. Dose-volume histogram (DVH) analysis was carried out to determine the dose-volume variation corresponding to the grid size change using the Gaussian error function (GEF). At the same time, dose-volume points, dose-volume parameters and radiobiological parameters were calculated based on DVHs of targets and organs at risk (OARs) for each grid size.
Comparing percentage variations of GEF parameters between the planning target volume (PTV) and clinical target volume (CTV), GEF parameters of the PTV were found varied more significantly than the CTV. This resulted in larger variations of dose-volume (%ΔCI=40·02 versus 13·55%, %ΔHI=12·45 versus 2·93% and %ΔGI=0·22 versus 0·06%) and radiobiological parameters (%ΔTCP=0·61 versus 0·25% and %ΔEUD=2·11 versus 0·26%) of the PTV compared with CTV. For OARs, the rectal wall showed a larger dose-volume variation than the rectum. However, similar dose-volume variation due to grid size change was not found in the bladder, bladder wall and femur.
Knowing the dosimetric variation in this study is important to the radiotherapy staff in the quality assurance for the prostate VMAT planning.
Skin care practices for radiotherapy patients are complicated by dosimetric concerns. This study measures the effect on skin dose of various topical agents and dressings.
Materials and methods
Superficial doses were measured under 17 topical agents and dressings and three clinical materials for reference. Dose was measured using a MOSFET detector under a 1 mm polymethyl methacrylate slab, with 6 MV photon beams at 100 cm source to surface distance.
Relative skin dose under reference materials was 128% (thermoplastic mask), 158% (5 mm bolus) and 171% (10 mm bolus). Under a realistic application of topical agent (0·5 mm), relative skin doses were 106–111%. All dry dressings yielded relative dose of ≤111%; two wet dressings yielded higher relative doses (133 and 141%).
Under clinically relevant conditions, no cream, gel or dry dressing increased the skin dose beyond that seen with a thermoplastic mask. Dressings soaked with water produced less skin dose than 5 mm bolus. This may be unacceptable if wet dressings are in place for the majority of the treatment course. Our results suggest that skin care practices should not be limited by dosimetric concerns when using a 6 MV photon beam.
We demonstrated that our proposed planning target volume (PTV) dose–volume factor (PDVF) can be used to evaluate the PTV dose coverage between the intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) plans based on 90 prostate patients.
PDVF were determined from the prostate IMRT and VMAT plans to compare their variation of PTV dose coverage. Comparisons of the PDVF with other plan evaluation parameters such as D5%, D95%, D99%, Dmean, conformity index (CI), homogeneity index (HI), gradient index (GI) and prostate tumour control probability (TCP) were carried out.
Methods and materials
Prostate IMRT and VMAT plans using the 6 MV photon beams were created from 40 and 50 patients, respectively. Dosimetric indices (CI, HI and GI), dose–volume points (D5%, D95%, D99% and Dmean) and prostate TCP were calculated according to the PTV dose–volume histograms (DVHs) of the plans. All PTV DVH curves were fitted using the Gaussian error function (GEF) model. The PDVF were calculated based on the GEF parameters.
From the PTV DVHs of the prostate IMRT and VMAT plans, the average D99% of the PTV for IMRT and VMAT were 74·1 and 74·5 Gy, respectively. The average prostate TCP were 0·956 and 0·958 for the IMRT and VMAT plans, respectively. The average PDVF of the IMRT and VMAT plans were 0·970 and 0·983, respectively. Although both the IMRT and VMAT plans showed very similar prostate TCP, the dosimetric and radiobiological results of the VMAT technique were slightly better than IMRT.
The calculated PDVF for the prostate IMRT and VMAT plans agreed well with other dosimetric and radiobiological parameters in this study. PDVF was verified as an alternative of evaluation parameter in the quality assurance of prostate treatment planning.
Patient teaching in radiation therapy may include restrictions on applying skin products owing to concerns that the presence of such materials may increase skin dose. These restrictions may create unnecessarily complicated and conflicting self-care instructions.
To determine what thickness of skin product is necessary to produce a clinically meaningful dose increase to the skin, and provide recommendations for evidence-based patient instructions.
Dosimetric measurements and Monte Carlo simulations were used to calculate skin dose under 0–1·5 mm thicknesses of two common classes of skin product for a variety of treatment geometries. The thickness of product required to produce a clinically significant dose increase to the skin was determined.
The thickness of product required to create a clinically meaningful dose increase was >0·7 mm for 10 × 10 cm2 fields and >1·5 mm for 1 × 1 cm2 fields. A typical application of product would be only 0·3 mm.
It seems unrealistic to anticipate patients using sufficiently large quantities of skin product to be of clinical concern. We therefore recommend that there are no dosimetric reasons to restrict the use of these types of skin products during radiation therapy for common treatment scenarios.
We propose to use the PTV dose–volume factor (PDVF) to evaluate treatment plans of prostate volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).
PDVF was used to compare the variation of planning target volume (PTV) coverage between VMAT and IMRT because of weight loss of patient.
Materials and methods
VMAT and IMRT plans of five patients (prostate volume = 32–86·5 cm3) using the 6 MV photon beams were created with the external contour reduced by depths of 0·5–2 cm to reflect the weight loss. Moreover, integral doses (volume integral of the patient dose) and prostate tumour control probability (TCP) were calculated.
We found that reduced depth resulted in PDVF decreasing 0·03 ± 4·7 × 10−4 (VMAT) and 0·04 ± 9·7 × 10−3 (IMRT) per cm for patients. The decrease of PDVF or degradation of PTV coverage was found more significant in IMRT plans than VMAT with patient size reduction. The integral dose did not change significantly between VMAT and IMRT, while the prostate TCP increased with an increase of reduced depth.
We concluded that PDVF can be successfully used to evaluate the variation of PTV coverage because of weight loss of patient in prostate VMAT and IMRT. Degradation of PTV coverage in prostate VMAT is less significant than IMRT regarding patient size reduction.
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