The development of Monte Carlo techniques for the verification of radiotherapy treatments

Crowe, Scott, Kairn, Tanya, Sandford, Peta, Hargrave, Cathy, & Fielding, Andrew (2008) The development of Monte Carlo techniques for the verification of radiotherapy treatments. Australasian Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine, 31(4), pp. 389-390.

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Introduction: Recent advances in the planning and delivery of radiotherapy treatments have resulted in improvements in the accuracy and precision with which therapeutic radiation can be administered. As the complexity of the treatments increases it becomes more difficult to predict the dose distribution in the patient accurately. Monte Carlo (MC) methods have the potential to improve the accuracy of the dose calculations and are increasingly being recognised as the ‘gold standard’ for predicting dose deposition in the patient [1]. This project has three main aims: 1. To develop tools that enable the transfer of treatment plan information from the treatment planning system (TPS) to a MC dose calculation engine. 2. To develop tools for comparing the 3D dose distributions calculated by the TPS and the MC dose engine. 3. To investigate the radiobiological significance of any errors between the TPS patient dose distribution and the MC dose distribution in terms of Tumour Control Probability (TCP) and Normal Tissue Complication Probabilities (NTCP). The work presented here addresses the first two aims.

Methods: (1a) Plan Importing: A database of commissioned accelerator models (Elekta Precise and Varian 2100CD) has been developed for treatment simulations in the MC system (EGSnrc/BEAMnrc). Beam descriptions can be exported from the TPS using the widespread DICOM framework, and the resultant files are parsed with the assistance of a software library (PixelMed Java DICOM Toolkit). The information in these files (such as the monitor units, the jaw positions and gantry orientation) is used to construct a plan-specific accelerator model which allows an accurate simulation of the patient treatment field. (1b) Dose Simulation: The calculation of a dose distribution requires patient CT images which are prepared for the MC simulation using a tool (CTCREATE) packaged with the system. Beam simulation results are converted to absolute dose per- MU using calibration factors recorded during the commissioning process and treatment simulation. These distributions are combined according to the MU meter settings stored in the exported plan to produce an accurate description of the prescribed dose to the patient. (2) Dose Comparison: TPS dose calculations can be obtained using either a DICOM export or by direct retrieval of binary dose files from the file system. Dose difference, gamma evaluation and normalised dose difference algorithms [2] were employed for the comparison of the TPS dose distribution and the MC dose distribution. These implementations are spatial resolution independent and able to interpolate for comparisons.

Results and Discussion: The tools successfully produced Monte Carlo input files for a variety of plans exported from the Eclipse (Varian Medical Systems) and Pinnacle (Philips Medical Systems) planning systems: ranging in complexity from a single uniform square field to a five-field step and shoot IMRT treatment. The simulation of collimated beams has been verified geometrically, and validation of dose distributions in a simple body phantom (QUASAR) will follow. The developed dose comparison algorithms have also been tested with controlled dose distribution changes.

Conclusion: The capability of the developed code to independently process treatment plans has been demonstrated. A number of limitations exist: only static fields are currently supported (dynamic wedges and dynamic IMRT will require further development), and the process has not been tested for planning systems other than Eclipse and Pinnacle. The tools will be used to independently assess the accuracy of the current treatment planning system dose calculation algorithms for complex treatment deliveries such as IMRT in treatment sites where patient inhomogeneities are expected to be significant.

Acknowledgements: Computational resources and services used in this work were provided by the HPC and Research Support Group, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. Pinnacle dose parsing made possible with the help of Paul Reich, North Coast Cancer Institute, North Coast, New South Wales.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 61193
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0158-9938
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 08 Jul 2013 02:54
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2014 02:07

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