Image guidance during head-and-neck cancer radiation therapy: analysis of alignment trends with in-room cone-beam computed tomography scans

Zachary Zumsteg, John DeMarco, Steve P Lee, Michael L Steinberg, Chun Shu Lin, William McBride, Kevin Lin, Pin-Chieh Wang, Patrick Kupelian, Percy Lee
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2012 June 1, 83 (2): 712-9

PURPOSE: On-board cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) is currently available for alignment of patients with head-and-neck cancer before radiotherapy. However, daily CBCT is time intensive and increases the overall radiation dose. We assessed the feasibility of using the average couch shifts from the first several CBCTs to estimate and correct for the presumed systematic setup error.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: 56 patients with head-and-neck cancer who received daily CBCT before intensity-modulated radiation therapy had recorded shift values in the medial-lateral, superior-inferior, and anterior-posterior dimensions. The average displacements in each direction were calculated for each patient based on the first five or 10 CBCT shifts and were presumed to represent the systematic setup error. The residual error after this correction was determined by subtracting the calculated shifts from the shifts obtained using daily CBCT.

RESULTS: The magnitude of the average daily residual three-dimensional (3D) error was 4.8 ± 1.4 mm, 3.9 ± 1.3 mm, and 3.7 ± 1.1 mm for uncorrected, five CBCT corrected, and 10 CBCT corrected protocols, respectively. With no image guidance, 40.8% of fractions would have been >5 mm off target. Using the first five CBCT shifts to correct subsequent fractions, this percentage decreased to 19.0% of all fractions delivered and decreased the percentage of patients with average daily 3D errors >5 mm from 35.7% to 14.3% vs. no image guidance. Using an average of the first 10 CBCT shifts did not significantly improve this outcome.

CONCLUSIONS: Using the first five CBCT shift measurements as an estimation of the systematic setup error improves daily setup accuracy for a subset of patients with head-and-neck cancer receiving intensity-modulated radiation therapy and primarily benefited those with large 3D correction vectors (>5 mm). Daily CBCT is still necessary until methods are developed that more accurately determine which patients may benefit from alternative imaging strategies.

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