Volumetric modulated arc planning for lung stereotactic body radiotherapy using conventional and unflattened photon beams: a dosimetric comparison with 3D technique

Geoffrey G Zhang, Lichung Ku, Thomas J Dilling, Craig W Stevens, Ray R Zhang, Weiqi Li, Vladimir Feygelman
Radiation Oncology 2011, 6: 152

PURPOSE: Frequently, three-dimensional (3D) conformal beams are used in lung cancer stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). Recently, volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) was introduced as a new treatment modality. VMAT techniques shorten delivery time, reducing the possibility of intrafraction target motion. However dose distributions can be quite different from standard 3D therapy. This study quantifies those differences, with focus on VMAT plans using unflattened photon beams.

METHODS: A total of 15 lung cancer patients previously treated with 3D or VMAT SBRT were randomly selected. For each patient, non-coplanar 3D, coplanar and non-coplanar VMAT and flattening filter free VMAT (FFF-VMAT) plans were generated to meet the same objectives with 50 Gy covering 95% of the PTV. Two dynamic arcs were used in each VMAT plan. The couch was set at ± 5° to the 0° straight position for the two non-coplanar arcs. Pinnacle version 9.0 (Philips Radiation Oncology, Fitchburg WI) treatment planning system with VMAT capabilities was used. We analyzed the conformity index (CI), which is the ratio of the total volume receiving at least the prescription dose to the target volume receiving at least the prescription dose; the conformity number (CN) which is the ratio of the target coverage to CI; and the gradient index (GI) which is the ratio of the volume of 50% of the prescription isodose to the volume of the prescription isodose; as well as the V20, V5, and mean lung dose (MLD). Paired non-parametric analysis of variance tests with post-tests were performed to examine the statistical significance of the differences of the dosimetric indices.

RESULTS: Dosimetric indices CI, CN and MLD all show statistically significant improvement for all studied VMAT techniques compared with 3D plans (p < 0.05). V5 and V20 show statistically significant improvement for the FFF-VMAT plans compared with 3D (p < 0.001). GI is improved for the FFF-VMAT and the non-coplanar VMAT plans (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05 respectively) while the coplanar VMAT plans do not show significant difference compared to 3D plans. Dose to the target is typically more homogeneous in FFF-VMAT plans. FFF-VMAT plans require more monitor units than 3D or non-coplanar VMAT ones.

CONCLUSION: Besides the advantage of faster delivery times, VMAT plans demonstrated better conformity to target, sharper dose fall-off in normal tissues and lower dose to normal lung than the 3D plans for lung SBRT. More monitor units are often required for FFF-VMAT plans.

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