Evaluation of inter-fraction and intra-fraction errors during volumetric modulated arc therapy in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients

Wen-Jing Yin, Ying Sun, Feng Chi, Jian-Lan Fang, Rui Guo, Xiao-Li Yu, Yan-Ping Mao, Zhen-Yu Qi, Ying Guo, Meng-Zhong Liu, Jun Ma
Radiation Oncology 2013, 8: 78

BACKGROUND: This prospective study was conducted to evaluate inter- and intra-fraction errors in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients undergoing volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) using cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) and to thus obtain planning target volume (PTV) margins to effectively guide treatment in the future.

METHODS: Fifteen NPC patients scheduled to undergo VMAT were prospectively enrolled in the study. For each patient, three CBCT scans were obtained; one after daily conventional positioning, one after online correction with 2 mm tolerance and one after 1 week of VMAT delivery. The scans were registered to the planning CT to determine the inter- and intra-fraction errors. Patient positioning errors were analyzed for time trends over the course of radiotherapy. PTV margins were calculated from the systematic (Σ) and random (σ) errors.

RESULTS: The average absolute values of the pre-correction, post-correction and intra-fraction errors (in order) were 1.1, 0.6 and 0.4 mm in the medial-lateral (ML) direction, 1.2, 0.7 and 0.5 mm in the superior-inferior (SI) direction and 1.1, 0.7 and 0.5 mm in the anterior-posterior (AP) direction. The corresponding Σ were 1.0-1.4 mm, 0.4-0.5 mm and 0.2-0.4 mm, while the corresponding σ were 0.7-0.8 mm, 0.6-0.7 mm and 0.5-0.6 mm. With time, gradual increases in both the inter- and intra-fraction three-dimensional displacements were observed (P = 0.019 and P = 0.044, respectively). The total PTV margins accounting for pre-correction and intra-fraction errors were 3.4-4.1 mm and those accounting for post-correction and intra-fraction errors were 1.7-2.2 mm.

CONCLUSIONS: CBCT is an effective modality to evaluate and improve the accuracy of VMAT in NPC patients. Inter- and intra-fraction three-dimensional displacements increased as a function of time during the course of radiotherapy. In our institution, we recommend a PTV margin of 5 mm for NPC patients undergoing VMAT without CBCT and 3 mm for those treated with rigorous daily CBCT scans.

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