Six dimensional analysis with daily stereoscopic x-ray imaging of intrafraction patient motion in head and neck treatments using five points fixation masks

Nadine Linthout, Dirk Verellen, Koen Tournel, Guy Storme
Medical Physics 2006, 33 (2): 504-13
The safety margins used to define the Planning Target Volume (PTV) should reflect the accuracy of the target localization during treatment that comprises both the reproducibility of the patient positioning and the positional uncertainty of the target, so both the inter- and intrafraction motion of the target. Our first aim in this study was to determine the intrafraction motion of patients immobilized with a five-point thermoplastic mask for head and neck treatments. The five-point masks have the advantage that the patient's shoulders as well as the cranial part of the patient's head is covered with the thermoplastic material that improves the overall immobilization of the head and neck region of the patient. Thirteen patients were consecutively assigned to use a five-point thermoplastic mask. The patients were positioned by tracking of infrared markers (IR) fixed to the immobilization device and stereoscopic x-ray images were used for daily on-line setup verification. Repositioning was carried out prior to treatment as needed; rotations were not corrected. Movements during treatment were monitored by real-time IR tracking. Intrafraction motion and rotation was supplementary assessed by a six-degree-of-freedom (6-D) fusion of x-ray images, taken before and after all 385 treatments, with DRR images generated from the planning CT data. The latter evaluates the movement of the patient within the thermoplastic mask independent from the mask movement, where IR tracking evaluates the movement of the mask caused by patient movement in the mask. These two movements are not necessarily equal to each other. The maximum intrafraction movement detected by IR tracking showed a shift [mean (SD; range)] of -0.1(0.7; 6.0), 0.1(0.6; 3.6), -0.2(0.8;5.5) mm in the vertical, longitudinal, and lateral direction, respectively, and rotations of 0.0(0.2; 1.6), 0.0(0.2; 1.7) and 0.2(0.2; 2.4) degrees about the vertical, longitudinal, and lateral axis, respectively. The standard deviations and ranges found with the 6-D fusion demonstrate intrafraction patient displacements of -0.5(1.2; 7.4), 0.3(0.7; 5.3), 0.0(0.7; 5.7) mm in the vertical, longitudinal, and lateral direction, respectively, and rotations of -0.1(0.6; 4.1), 0.1(0.7; 8.3) and -0.2(0.8; 8.2) degrees about the vertical, longitudinal, and lateral axis, respectively. The 6-D fusions are considerably larger (p < 0.05) than detected by IR tracking. This indicates that the external marker tracking underestimates the magnitude of the actual intrafraction motion and rotation of the patient. The intrafraction motion detected for the patients immobilized with a conventional thermoplastic mask was relatively large. The feasibility to reduce this intrafraction movement by the application of alternative five-point thermoplastic mask types was evaluated as a second aim of this study. The preliminary results showed a clear reduction in the range, being an indication for the random movements, of both the intrafraction shift and rotation for both alternative mask types. The 6-D fusion is found a useful tool for a fast evaluation of the actual patient's intrafraction shift and rotation and shows the latter is not negligible and needs to be taken into account additional to the initial setup accuracy when determining the PTV margin.

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