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Phys Med Biol. 2010 Nov 7;55(21):6475-90. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/55/21/009. Epub 2010 Oct 19.

Comparison of anatomy-based, fluence-based and aperture-based treatment planning approaches for VMAT.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Swedish Cancer Institute, 1221 Madison St Seattle, WA 98104, USA. min.mrao@gmail.com


Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) has the potential to reduce treatment times while producing comparable or improved dose distributions relative to fixed-field intensity-modulated radiation therapy. In order to take full advantage of the VMAT delivery technique, one must select a robust inverse planning tool. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of VMAT planning techniques of three categories: anatomy-based, fluence-based and aperture-based inverse planning. We have compared these techniques in terms of the plan quality, planning efficiency and delivery efficiency. Fourteen patients were selected for this study including six head-and-neck (HN) cases, and two cases each of prostate, pancreas, lung and partial brain. For each case, three VMAT plans were created. The first VMAT plan was generated based on the anatomical geometry. In the Elekta ERGO++ treatment planning system (TPS), segments were generated based on the beam's eye view (BEV) of the target and the organs at risk. The segment shapes were then exported to Pinnacle TPS followed by segment weight optimization and final dose calculation. The second VMAT plan was generated by converting optimized fluence maps (calculated by the Pinnacle TPS) into deliverable arcs using an in-house arc sequencer. The third VMAT plan was generated using the Pinnacle SmartArc IMRT module which is an aperture-based optimization method. All VMAT plans were delivered using an Elekta Synergy linear accelerator and the plan comparisons were made in terms of plan quality and delivery efficiency. The results show that for cases of little or modest complexity such as prostate, pancreas, lung and brain, the anatomy-based approach provides similar target coverage and critical structure sparing, but less conformal dose distributions as compared to the other two approaches. For more complex HN cases, the anatomy-based approach is not able to provide clinically acceptable VMAT plans while highly conformal dose distributions were obtained using both aperture-based and fluence-based inverse planning techniques. The aperture-based approach provides improved dose conformity than the fluence-based technique in complex cases.

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