Use of transputers for real time dose calculation and presentation for three-dimensional radiation treatment planning

Fred U. Rosenberger, John W. Matthews, Gerald C. Johns, Robert E. Drzymala, James A. Purdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: Real-time 3-dimensional dose calculation will allow display of isodose contours and other metrics for a planner to assess plan effectiveness during plan development, facilitating optimization. Methods and Materials: Parallel processing provides an effective means to calculate 3-dimensional dose distribution in real-time while plan parameters are being chosen and adjusted. An array of 20 transputers and a high performance graphics workstation have demonstrated the feasibility of real-time 3-dimensional beam parameter specification, dose calculation, and dose-distribution presentation for evaluation. A mesh connected set of processors using surface processors to generate and terminate rays, and ray processors to calculate ray attenuation and dose distribution has been developed to efficiently utilize large numbers of processors and provide good load sharing, even for small beams that intersect only a small part of the volume. Results: Our feasibility study has calculated dose distribution by the Effective Path Length method in about one second per beam for a treatment volume of 56,400 voxels. We expect to reduce the total time for computation, communication, and display, with even larger volumes, to less than one second. The number of processors can easily be increased for larger treatment volumes or more accurate and computation-intensive dose-calculation algorithms. Transputers provide an elegant and economical method for harnessing up to hundreds of powerful general-purpose processors for computational tasks including dose calculation and isodose contour generation. The same distributed-memory parallel-processing configuration is also suitable for calculation of isodose contours and dose-volume histograms for plan evaluation, automatic calculation of apertures and filters as beam parameters are manipulated, and more accurate dose calculation algorithms that incorporate the effects of scatter. Conclusion: Parallel processors can efficiently provide real-time calculation of the information necessary to evaluate treatment plans as they are developed allowing the planner to optimize the plan based on dose distribution and its effects on tumor control and complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-719
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 1993


  • 3-dimensional treatment planning
  • Distributed-memory
  • Parallel processing
  • Real-time
  • Stereotactic
  • Transputer


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