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Phys Med Biol. 2008 Dec 7;53(23):6653-72. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/53/23/002. Epub 2008 Nov 7.

Using total-variation regularization for intensity modulated radiation therapy inverse planning with field-specific numbers of segments.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. leizhu@stanford.edu


Currently, there are two types of treatment planning algorithms for intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The beamlet-based algorithm generates beamlet intensity maps with high complexity, resulting in large numbers of segments in the delivery after a leaf-sequencing algorithm is applied. The segment-based direct aperture optimization (DAO) algorithm includes the physical constraints of the deliverable apertures in the calculation, and achieves a conformal dose distribution using a small number of segments. However, the number of segments is pre-fixed in most of the DAO approaches, and the typical random search scheme in the optimization is computationally intensive. A regularization-based algorithm is proposed to overcome the drawbacks of the DAO method. Instead of smoothing the beamlet intensity maps as in many existing methods, we include a total-variation term in the optimization objective function to reduce the number of signal levels of the beam intensity maps. An aperture rectification algorithm is then applied to generate a significantly reduced number of deliverable apertures. As compared to the DAO algorithm, our method has an efficient form of quadratic optimization, with an additional advantage of optimizing field-specific numbers of segments based on the modulation complexity. The proposed approach is evaluated using two clinical cases. Under the condition that the clinical acceptance criteria of the treatment plan are satisfied, for the prostate patient, the total number of segments for five fields is reduced from 61 using the Eclipse planning system to 35 using the proposed algorithm; for the head and neck patient, the total number of segments for seven fields is reduced from 107 to 28. The head and neck result is also compared to that using an equal number of four segments for each field. The comparison shows that using field-specific numbers of segments achieves a much improved dose distribution.

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