The impact of fluctuations in intensity patterns on the number of monitor units and the quality and accuracy of intensity modulated radiotherapy.
The purpose of this work is to examine the potential impact of the frequency and amplitude of fluctuations ("complexity") in intensity distributions on intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) dose distributions. The intensity-modulated beams are efficiently delivered using a multileaf collimator (MLC). Radiation may be delivered through a continuous (dynamic mode) or discrete (step-and-shoot) sequence of windows formed by the leaves. Algorithms and software that convert optimized intensity distributions into leaf trajectories apply approximate empirical corrections to account for the various effects associated with MLC characteristics, such as the rounded leaf tips, tongue-and-groove leaf design, leaf transmission, leaf scatter, and collimator scatter upstream from the MLC. Typically, the difference between inter- and intraleaf transmissions is ignored. In this paper, using a schematic example of IMRT for head and neck carcinomas, we demonstrate that complex anatomy and severe optimization constraints produce complex intensity patterns. Using idealized intensity patterns we also demonstrate that, for complex intensity patterns, the average window width tends to be smaller and, for the same dose received by the tumor, the number of MUs is larger. We found that as the complexity increases, so does the contribution of radiation transmitted through and scattered from the leaves ("indirect radiation") to the total delivered dose. As a consequence, the lowest deliverable intensity in complex intensity patterns may be significantly greater than that required to provide adequate protection for some normal tissues. Furthermore, since corrections for leaf transmission and scatter effects are approximate and the difference between inter- and intraleaf transmission is ignored, the accuracy of the delivered dose may be affected. Using the results of a simple experiment and a typical intensity-modulated beam for a head and neck case as examples, we show the effect of window width and complexity on the accuracy and deliverability of intensity patterns. Some possible strategies for improving the accuracy and for relaxing the lower limit on deliverable intensity are discussed.
Mohan, R; Arnfield, M; Tong, S; Wu, Q; Siebers, J
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