Effects of small field output factors on IMRT optimisation and dose calculation

Kairn, T., Charles, P., Crowe, S. B., & Trapp, J. V. (2014) Effects of small field output factors on IMRT optimisation and dose calculation. Australasian Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine, 37(1), pp. 214-215.

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Given the known challenges of obtaining accurate measurements of small radiation fields, and the increasing use of small field segments in IMRT beams, this study examined the possible effects of referencing inaccurate field output factors in the planning of IMRT treatments.


This study used the Brainlab iPlan treatment planning system to devise IMRT treatment plans for delivery using the Brainlab m3 microMLC (Brainlab, Feldkirchen, Germany). Four pairs of sample IMRT treatments were planned using volumes, beams and prescriptions that were based on a set of test plans described in AAPM TG 119’s recommendations for the commissioning of IMRT treatment planning systems [1]: • C1, a set of three 4 cm volumes with different prescription doses, was modified to reduce the size of the PTV to 2 cm across and to include an OAR dose constraint for one of the other volumes. • C2, a prostate treatment, was planned as described by the TG 119 report [1]. • C3, a head-and-neck treatment with a PTV larger than 10 cm across, was excluded from the study. • C4, an 8 cm long C-shaped PTV surrounding a cylindrical OAR, was planned as described in the TG 119 report [1] and then replanned with the length of the PTV reduced to 4 cm. Both plans in each pair used the same beam angles, collimator angles, dose reference points, prescriptions and constraints. However, one of each pair of plans had its beam modulation optimisation and dose calculation completed with reference to existing iPlan beam data and the other had its beam modulation optimisation and dose calculation completed with reference to revised beam data. The beam data revisions consisted of increasing the field output factor for a 0.6 9 0.6 cm2 field by 17 % and increasing the field output factor for a 1.2 9 1.2 cm2 field by 3 %.


The use of different beam data resulted in different optimisation results with different microMLC apertures and segment weightings between the two plans for each treatment, which led to large differences (up to 30 % with an average of 5 %) between reference point doses in each pair of plans. These point dose differences are more indicative of the modulation of the plans than of any clinically relevant changes to the overall PTV or OAR doses. By contrast, the maximum, minimum and mean doses to the PTVs and OARs were smaller (less than 1 %, for all beams in three out of four pairs of treatment plans) but are more clinically important. Of the four test cases, only the shortened (4 cm) version of TG 119’s C4 plan showed substantial differences between the overall doses calculated in the volumes of interest using the different sets of beam data and thereby suggested that treatment doses could be affected by changes to small field output factors. An analysis of the complexity of this pair of plans, using Crowe et al.’s TADA code [2], indicated that iPlan’s optimiser had produced IMRT segments comprised of larger numbers of small microMLC leaf separations than in the other three test cases.


The use of altered small field output factors can result in substantially altered doses when large numbers of small leaf apertures are used to modulate the beams, even when treating relatively large volumes.

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ID Code: 71406
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
DOI: 10.1007/s13246-014-0248-y
ISSN: 1879-5447
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHYSICAL SCIENCES (020000) > OTHER PHYSICAL SCIENCES (029900) > Medical Physics (029903)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 12 May 2014 22:31
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2016 03:02

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