Measurement of patient positioning errors in three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy of the prostate

J Hanley, M A Lumley, G S Mageras, J Sun, M J Zelefsky, S A Leibel, Z Fuks, G J Kutcher
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 1997 January 15, 37 (2): 435-44

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE: To determine the spatial distribution of setup errors for patients treated with six-field, three-dimensional (3D) conformal radiation therapy for prostate cancer.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Port films for 50 patients were analyzed retrospectively. The port films were digitized and compared, using image registration software, to simulator films (representing the ideal treatment position). Patient positioning uncertainty for a given setup was determined using port films from three projections, two obliques, and one lateral. A total of 1239 port films and 300 simulator films were analyzed for the study. Patient position was analyzed for out-of-plane rotations and time trends over the course of treatment.

RESULTS: The distribution of systematic setup errors for the 50 patients, defined as the mean patient displacement for the treatment course, had a mean and standard deviation (SD) of (-0.1 +/- 1.9) mm, (0.4 +/- 1.4) mm, and (-0.3 +/- 1.3) mm in the mediolateral (ML), superior-inferior (SI) and anterior-posterior (AP) directions, and (-0.1 +/- 0.2) for rotational errors. The distribution of random setup errors about the mean approximated a normal distribution and the standard deviations for the population of patients in the ML, SI, and AP directions, were 2.0 mm, 1.7 mm, and 1.9 mm, respectively. The distribution of out-of-plane rotations had 1 SD of 0.9 degrees and 0.6 degrees about the SI and AP axes. Ten of the 50 patients demonstrated a statistically significant time trend in their setup position resulting in shifts ranging from 2 to 7 mm.

CONCLUSIONS: The setup verification protocol appears to minimize systematic setup errors to a level that approaches the sensitivity of the image registration technique. The random day to day fluctuations, represented by the average values of the standard deviations, are minor in comparison to the currently used margins, which further emphasizes the effectiveness of this protocol in conjunction with the use of the immobilization device.

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