Predicting dose-volume histograms for organs-at-risk in IMRT planning

Lindsey M. Appenzoller, Jeff M. Michalski, Wade L. Thorstad, Sasa Mutic, Kevin L. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

323 Scopus citations


Purpose: The objective of this work was to develop a quality control (QC) tool to reduce intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) planning variability and improve treatment plan quality using mathematical models that predict achievable organ-at-risk (OAR) dose-volume histograms (DVHs) based on individual patient anatomy. Methods: A mathematical framework to predict achievable OAR DVHs was derived based on the correlation of expected dose to the minimum distance from a voxel to the PTV surface. OAR voxels sharing a range of minimum distances were computed as subvolumes. A three-parameter, skew-normal probability distribution was used to fit subvolume dose distributions, and DVH prediction models were developed by fitting the evolution of the skew-normal parameters as a function of distance with polynomials. Cohorts of 20 prostate and 24 head-and-neck IMRT plans with identical clinical objectives were used to train organ-specific average models for rectum, bladder, and parotids. A sum of residuals analysis quantifying the integrated difference between the clinically approved DVH and predicted DVH evaluated similarity between DVHs. The ability of the average models to prospectively predict DVHs was evaluated on an independent validation cohort of 20 prostate plans. Statistical comparison of the sums of residuals between training and validation cohorts quantified the accuracy of the average model. Restricted sums of residuals (RSR) were used to identify potential outliers, where large values of RSR indicate a clinical DVH that exceeds the predicted DVH by a considerable amount. A refined model was obtained for each organ by excluding outliers with large RSR values from the training cohort. The refined model was applied to the original training cohort and restricted sums of residuals were utilized to estimate potential DVH improvements. All cases were replanned and evaluated by the physician that approved the original plan. The ability of the refined models to correctly identify outliers was assessed using the residual sum between the original and replanned DVHs to quantify dosimetric gains realized under replanning. Results: Statistical analysis of average sum of residuals for rectum (SR rectum =0.003±0.037), bladder (SR bladder =-0.008±0.037), and parotid (SR parotid =-0.003±0.060) training cohorts yielded mean values near zero and small with respect to the standard deviations, indicating that the average models are capturing the essential behavior of the training cohorts. The predictive abilities of the average rectum and bladder models were statistically indistinguishable between the training and validation sets, with SR rectum =0.002±0.044 and SR bladder =-0.018±0.058 for the validation set. The refined models' ability to detect outliers and predict achievable OAR DVHs was demonstrated by a strong correlation between predicted gains (RSR) and realized gains after replanning with sample correlation coefficients of r 0.92 for the rectum, r 0.88 for the bladder, and r 0.84 for the parotid glands. Conclusions: The results demonstrate that our mathematical framework and modest training cohorts successfully predict achievable OAR DVHs based on individual patient anatomy. The models correctly identified suboptimal plans that demonstrated further OAR sparing after replanning. This modeling technique requires no manual intervention except for appropriate selection of a training set with identical evaluation criteria. Clinical implementation is in progress to evaluate impact on real-time IMRT QC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7446-7461
Number of pages16
JournalMedical physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


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