Abutment region dosimetry for serial tomotherapy

Daniel A. Low, Sasa Mutic, James F. Dempsey, Jerry Markman, S. Murty Goddu, James A. Purdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Purpose: A commercial intensity modulated radiation therapy system (Corvus, NOMOS Corp.) is presently used in our clinic to generate optimized dose distributions delivered using a proprietary dynamic multileaf collimator (DMLC) (MIMiC) composed of 20 opposed leaf pairs. On our accelerator (Clinac 600C/D, Varian Associates, Inc.) each MIMiC leaf projects to either 1.00 x 0.84 or 1.00 x 1.70 cm2 (depending on the treatment plan and termed 1 cm or 2 cm mode, respectively). The MIMiC is used to deliver serial (axial) tomotherapy treatment plans, in which the beam is delivered to a nearly cylindrical volume as the DMLC is rotated about the patient. For longer targets, the patient is moved (indexed) between treatments a distance corresponding to the projected leaf width. The treatment relies on precise indexing and a method was developed to measure the precision of indexing devices. A treatment planning study of the dosimetric effects of incorrect patient indexing and concluded that a dose heterogeneity of 10% mm-1 resulted. Because the results may be sensitive to the dose model accuracy, we conducted a measurement-based investigation of the consequences of incorrect indexing using our accelerator. Although the indexing provides an accurate field abutment along the isocenter, due to beam divergence, hot and cold spots will be produced below and above isocenter, respectively, when less than 300°arcs were used. A preliminary study recently determined that for a 290°rotation in 1 cm mode, 15% cold and 7% hot spots were delivered to 7 cm above and below isocenter, respectively. This study completes the earlier work by investigating the dose heterogeneity as a function of position relative to the axis of rotation, arc length, and leaf width. The influence of random daily patient positioning errors is also investigated. Methods and Materials: Treatment plans were generated using 8.0 cm diameter cylindrical target volumes within a homogeneous rectilinear film phantom. The plans included both 1 and 2 cm mode, optimized for 300°, 240°, and 180°gantry rotations. Coronal-oriented films were irradiated throughout the target volumes and scanned using a laser film digitizer. The central target irradiated in 1 cm mode was also used to investigate the effects of incorrect couch indexing. Results: The dose error as a function of couch index error was 25% mm-1, significantly greater than previously reported. The clinically provided indexing system yielded 0.10 mm indexing precision. The intrinsic dose distributions indicated that more heterogeneous dose distributions resulted from the use of smaller gantry angle ranges and larger leaf projections. Using 300°gantry angle and 1 cm mode yielded 7% hot and 15% cold spots 7 cm below and above isocenter, respectively. When a 180°gantry angle was used, the values changed to 22% hot and 27% cold spots for the same locations. The heterogeneities for the 2 cm mode were 70% greater than the corresponding 1 cm values. Conclusions: While serial tomotherapy is used to deliver highly conformal dose distributions, significant dosimetric factors must be considered before treatment. The patient must be immobilized during treatment to avoid dose heterogeneities caused by incorrect indexing due to patient movement. Even under ideal conditions, beam divergence can cause significant abutment-region dose heterogeneities. The use of larger gantry angle ranges, smaller leaf widths, and appropriate locations of the gantry rotation axis can minimize these effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-203
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 1999


  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy
  • Radiation therapy quality assurance
  • Serial tomotherapy


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