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Med Phys. 2006 Jul;33(7):2598-609.

Real-time tumor tracking using implanted positron emission markers: concept and simulation study.

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  • 1Department of Radiological Sciences, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA. XUT@UCI.EDU


The delivery accuracy of radiation therapy for pulmonary and abdominal tumors suffers from tumor motion due to respiration. Respiratory gating should be applied to avoid the use of a large target volume margin that results in a substantial dose to the surrounding normal tissue. Precise respiratory gating requires the exact spatial position of the tumor to be determined in real time during treatment. Usually, fiducial markers are implanted inside or next to the tumor to provide both accurate patient setup and real-time tumor tracking. However, current tumor tracking systems require either substantial x-ray exposure to the patient or large fiducial markers that limit the value of their application for pulmonary tumors. We propose a real-time tumor tracking system using implanted positron emission markers (PeTrack). Each marker will be labeled with low activity positron emitting isotopes, such as 124I, 74As, or 84Rb. These isotopes have half-lives comparable to the duration of radiation therapy (from a few days to a few weeks). The size of the proposed PeTrack marker will be 0.5-0.8 mm, which is approximately one-half the size of markers currently employed in other techniques. By detecting annihilation gammas using position-sensitive detectors, multiple positron emission markers can be tracked in real time. A multimarker localization algorithm was developed using an Expectation-Maximization clustering technique. A Monte Carlo simulation model was developed for the PeTrack system. Patient dose, detector sensitivity, and scatter fraction were evaluated. Depending on the isotope, the lifetime dose from a 3.7 MBq PeTrack marker was determined to be 0.7-5.0 Gy at 10 mm from the marker. At the center of the field of view (FOV), the sensitivity of the PeTrack system was 240-320 counts/s per 1 MBq marker activity within a 30 cm thick patient. The sensitivity was reduced by 45% when the marker was near the edge of the FOV. The scatter fraction ranged from 12% (124I, 74As) to 16% (84Rb). In addition, four markers (labeled with 124I) inside a 30 cm diameter water phantom were simulated to evaluate the feasibility of the multimarker localization algorithm. Localization was considered successful if a marker was localized to within 2 mm from its true location. The success rate of marker localization was found to depend on the number of annihilation events used and the error in the initial estimate of the marker position. By detecting 250 positron annihilation events from 4 markers (average of 62 events per marker), the marker success rates for initial errors of +/-5, +/-10, and +/-15 mm were 99.9%, 99.6%, and 92.4%, respectively. Moreover, the average localization error was 0.55 (+/-0.27) mm, which was independent of initial error. The computing time for localizing four markers was less than 20 ms (Pentium 4, 2.8 GHz processor, 512 MB memory). In conclusion, preliminary results demonstrate that the PeTrack technique can potentially provide real-time tumor tracking with low doses associated with the marker's activity. Furthermore, the small size of PeTrack markers is expected to facilitate implantation and reduce patient risk.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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