Comparison of two head and neck immobilization systems.
PURPOSE: Accurate and reproducible patient positioning is fundamental to the success of fractionated radiotherapy. Concurrent with the introduction of three-dimensional treatment planning capabilities at our institution, a head and neck immobilization system consisting of a standard foam rubber head support and three casting strips was replaced by a customized mask-based device. This study was performed to analyze the impact of the customized immobilization system on the reproducibility of patient setup during irradiation of head and neck and brain tumors. METHODS AND MATERIALS: Patients treated from 1989-1991 were immobilized with the strip system while those treated from 1991-1995 were immobilized with the mask. All treatment fields were simulated and were treated on a 4 MV (where the strip, but not the mask, system was fixed to the treatment couch) or > or = 6 MV (where both the strip and the mask systems were fixed to the couch) accelerator. Port films were taken on the initial treatment day, routinely during treatment, and following shifts (requested). The number, magnitude, and direction of any isocenter shifts were retrospectively reviewed. A two-tailed chi square test was used to compare the differences in requested shifts in the strip and mask groups. RESULTS: The study population consisted of 69 brain tumor (35 strip, 34 mask) and 71 head and neck (37 strip, 34 mask) patients. A total of 1575 port films representing 1070 isocenter placements were analyzed. No differences between the immobilization systems was seen on the 4-MV accelerator (where the mask system was not fixed to the couch). On the > or = 6-MV units, the frequency of shifts was 16.1% versus 6.2% (p = 0.002) with the strips and mask, respectively. Almost all of the benefit was seen in the routine films, where the corresponding rates were 13.2% and 4.1% (p = 0.007). For the mask system, the rate of requested shifts on routine films was 4.1% (8/197) for the > or = 6-MV units and 14.5% (24/166) for the 4-MV unit (p = 0.001). CONCLUSION: Using the frequency of physician-requested isocenter shifts as an indicator of the accuracy of patient repositioning, the newer mask system appears to be an improvement over the previously used strip system, provided that the immobilization device is secured to the treatment couch. Increased accuracy of daily setup provides an opportunity to improve the therapeutic ratio both by increased likelihood of tumor control and decreased risk of normal tissue complications.
Bentel, GC; Marks, LB; Hendren, K; Brizel, DM
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