Changes in pharyngeal constrictor volumes during head and neck radiation therapy: Implications for dose delivery

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J Cancer Res Ther


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate the anatomical changes and associated dosimetric consequences to pharyngeal constrictor muscles (PCMs) that occur during head and neck (H and N) radiotherapy (RT).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cohort of 13 oropharyngeal cancer patients with daily cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) was retrospectively studied. On every 5th CBCT image, PCM was manually delineated by a radiation oncologist. The anterior-posterior PCM thickness was measured at the midline level of C3 vertebral body. Delivered dose to PCM was estimated by calculating dose on daily images and performing dose accumulation on corresponding planning CT images using a parameter-optimized B-spline-based deformable image registration algorithm. The mean and maximum delivered dose (Dmean, Dmax) to PCM were determined and compared with the corresponding planned quantities.

RESULTS: The average (±standard deviation) volume increase (ΔV) and thickness increase (Δt) over the course of 35 total fractions were 54 ± 33% (11.9 ± 7.6 cc) and 63 ± 39% (2.9 ± 1.9 mm), respectively. The resultant cumulative mean dose increase from planned dose to PCM (ΔDmean) was 1.4 ± 1.3% (0.9 ± 0.8 Gy), while the maximum dose increase (ΔDmax) was 0.0 ± 1.6% (0.0 ± 1.1 Gy). Patients who underwent adaptive replanning (n = 6) showed a smaller mean dose increase than those without (n = 7); 0.5 ± 0.2% (0.3 ± 0.1 Gy) versus 2.2 ± 1.4% (1.4 ± 0.9 Gy). There were statistically significant (P = 0.001) strong correlations between ΔDmean and Δt (Pearson coefficient r = 0.78), as well as between ΔDmean and ΔV (r = 0.52).

CONCLUSION: The patients underwent considerable anatomical changes to PCM during H and N RT. However, the resultant increase in dose to PCM was minor to moderate. PCM thickness measured at C3 level is a good predictor for the mean dose increase to PCM.

Medical Subject Headings

Cohort Studies; Cone-Beam Computed Tomography; Constriction, Pathologic; Head and Neck Neoplasms; Humans; Pharynx; Radiotherapy Dosage

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