Purpose: To characterize radiation therapy patient breathing patterns based on measured external surrogate information. Methods: Breathing surrogate data were collected during 4DCT from a cohort of 50 patients including 28 patients with lung cancer and 22 patients without lung cancer. A spirometer and an abdominal pneumatic bellows were used as the surrogates. The relationship between these measurements was assumed to be linear within a small phase difference. The signals were correlated and drift corrected using a previously published method to convert the signal into tidal volume. The airflow was calculated with a first order time derivative of the tidal volume using a window centered on the point of interest and with a window length equal to the CT gantry rotation period. The airflow was compared against the tidal volume to create ellipsoidal patterns that were binned into 25 ml × 25 ml/s bins to determine the relative amount of time spent in each bin. To calculate the variability of the maximum inhalation tidal volume within a free-breathing scan timeframe, a metric based on percentile volume ratios was defined. The free breathing variability metric (κ) was defined as the ratio between extreme inhalation tidal volumes (defined as >93 tidal volume percentile of the measured tidal volume) and normal inhalation tidal volume (defined as >80 tidal volume percentile of the measured tidal volume). Results: There were three observed types of volume-flow curves, labeled Types 1, 2, and 3. Type 1 patients spent a greater duration of time during exhalation with κ = 1.37 ± 0.11. Type 2 patients had equal time duration spent during inhalation and exhalation with κ = 1.28 ± 0.09. The differences between the mean peak exhalation to peak inhalation tidal volume, breathing period, and the 85th tidal volume percentile for Type 1 and Type 2 patients were statistically significant at the 2% significance level. The difference between κ and the 98th tidal volume percentile for Type 1 and Type 2 patients was found to be statistically significant at the 1% significance level. Three patients did not display a breathing stability curve that could be classified as Type 1 or Type 2 due to chaotic breathing patterns. These patients were classified as Type 3 patients. Conclusions: Based on an observed volume-flow curve pattern, the cohort of 50 patients was divided into three categories called Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. There were statistically significant differences in breathing characteristics between Type 1 and Type 2 patients. The use of volume-flow curves to classify patients has been demonstrated as a physiological characterization metric that has the potential to optimize gating windows in radiation therapy.
- Respiratory gating
- Tidal volume