Adaptive radiotherapy for NSCLC patients: utilizing the principle of energy conservation to evaluate dose mapping operations

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Physics in medicine and biology


Tumor regression during the course of fractionated radiotherapy confounds the ability to accurately estimate the total dose delivered to tumor targets. Here we present a new criterion to improve the accuracy of image intensity-based dose mapping operations for adaptive radiotherapy for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Six NSCLC patients were retrospectively investigated in this study. An image intensity-based B-spline registration algorithm was used for deformable image registration (DIR) of weekly CBCT images to a reference image. The resultant displacement vector fields were employed to map the doses calculated on weekly images to the reference image. The concept of energy conservation was introduced as a criterion to evaluate the accuracy of the dose mapping operations. A finite element method (FEM)-based mechanical model was implemented to improve the performance of the B-Spline-based registration algorithm in regions involving tumor regression. For the six patients, deformed tumor volumes changed by 21.2  ±  15.0% and 4.1  ±  3.7% on average for the B-Spline and the FEM-based registrations performed from fraction 1 to fraction 21, respectively. The energy deposited in the gross tumor volume (GTV) was 0.66 Joules (J) per fraction on average. The energy derived from the fractional dose reconstructed by the B-spline and FEM-based DIR algorithms in the deformed GTV's was 0.51 J and 0.64 J, respectively. Based on landmark comparisons for the 6 patients, mean error for the FEM-based DIR algorithm was 2.5  ±  1.9 mm. The cross-correlation coefficient between the landmark-measured displacement error and the loss of radiation energy was  -0.16 for the FEM-based algorithm. To avoid uncertainties in measuring distorted landmarks, the B-Spline-based registrations were compared to the FEM registrations, and their displacement differences equal 4.2  ±  4.7 mm on average. The displacement differences were correlated to their relative loss of radiation energy with a cross-correlation coefficient equal to 0.68. Based on the principle of energy conservation, the FEM-based mechanical model has a better performance than the B-Spline-based DIR algorithm. It is recommended that the principle of energy conservation be incorporated into a comprehensive QA protocol for adaptive radiotherapy.

Medical Subject Headings

Algorithms; Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung; Cone-Beam Computed Tomography; Finite Element Analysis; Humans; Image Processing, Computer-Assisted; Lung Neoplasms; Radiation Dosage; Radiotherapy Dosage; Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted; Retrospective Studies; Tumor Burden; Uncertainty

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