Improving the dosimetric coverage of interstitial high-dose-rate breast implants

L L Kestin, D A Jaffray, G K Edmundson, A A Martinez, J W Wong, V R Kini, P Y Chen, F A Vicini
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2000 January 1, 46 (1): 35-43

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE: We performed a retrospective computed tomography (CT)-based three-dimensional (3D) dose-volume analysis of high-dose-rate (HDR) interstitial breast implants to evaluate the adequacy of lumpectomy cavity coverage, and then designed a simple, reproducible algorithm for dwell-time adjustment to correct for underdosage of the lumpectomy cavity.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Since March 1993, brachytherapy has been used as the sole radiation modality after lumpectomy in selected protocol patients with early-stage breast cancer treated with breast-conserving therapy. In this protocol, all patients received 32 Gy in 8 fractions of 4 Gy over 4 days. Eleven patients treated with HDR brachytherapy who underwent CT scanning after implant placement were included in this analysis. For each patient, the postimplant CT dataset was transferred to a 3D treatment planning system, and the relevant tissue volumes were outlined on each axial slice. The implant dataset, including the dwell positions and dwell times, were imported into the 3D planning system and then registered to the visible implant template in the CT dataset. The calculated dose distribution was analyzed with respect to defined volumes via dose-volume histograms. Due to the variability of lumpectomy cavity coverage discovered in this 3D quality assurance analysis, dwell times at selected positions were adjusted in an attempt to improve dosimetric coverage of the lumpectomy cavity. Using implant data from 5 cases, a dwell-time adjustment algorithm was designed and was then tested on 11 cases. In this algorithm, a point P was identified using axial CT images, which was representative of the underdosed region within the cavity. The distance (d) from point P to the nearest dwell position was measured. A number of dwell positions (N) nearest to point P were selected for dwell time adjustment. The algorithm was tested by increasing the dwell times of a variable number of positions (N = 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 20) by a weighting factor (alpha), where alpha = f(d) and alpha > 1, and subsequently performing 3D dose-volume analysis to evaluate the improvement in lumpectomy cavity coverage.

RESULTS: Before adjustment in the 11 implants, the median proportion of the lumpectomy cavity and target volume that received at least the prescription dose was 85% and 68%, respectively. After dwell-time adjustment, lumpectomy cavity coverage was significantly improved in all 11 cases. The median distance from point P to the nearest dwell position (d) was 1.4 cm (range 0.9-1.9). The median volume of the lumpectomy cavity receiving 32 Gy increased from 85.3% in the actual implant to 97.0% (range 74-100%) by increasing the dwell time of a single dwell position by a median factor (alpha) of 12.2 according to the above algorithm. With N = 3, the median proportion of the cavity volume receiving 32 Gy was improved to 97.5% (range 77-100%), with a median alpha of 5.7. Further improvement in lumpectomy cavity coverage was relatively small by increasing additional dwell times. In addition, with N = 20, the median absolute volume of breast tissue receiving 150% of the prescription dose was 70.3 cm3 compared to 26.3 cm3 in the actual implant; whereas with N = 1 or N = 3, this median volume was only 35.9 and 42.0 cm3, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Lumpectomy cavity coverage sometimes appears suboptimal with interstitial HDR breast brachytherapy using our current technique. A simple dwell-time increase at only 1-3 dwell positions can compensate for some underdosage without creating significant regions of overdosage. Using simple methodology, a single reference point representing the underdosed region can be utilized for initial selection of the dwell positions to be increased.

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