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J Contemp Brachytherapy. 2012 Sep;4(3):165-75. doi: 10.5114/jcb.2012.30683. Epub 2012 Sep 29.

Keeping an eye on the ring: COMS plaque loading optimization for improved dose conformity and homogeneity.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.



To improve tumor dose conformity and homogeneity for COMS plaque brachytherapy by investigating the dosimetric effects of varying component source ring radionuclides and source strengths.


The MCNP5 Monte Carlo (MC) radiation transport code was used to simulate plaque heterogeneity-corrected dose distributions for individually-activated source rings of 14, 16 and 18 mm diameter COMS plaques, populated with (103)Pd, (125)I and (131)Cs sources. Ellipsoidal tumors were contoured for each plaque size and MATLAB programming was developed to generate tumor dose distributions for all possible ring weighting and radionuclide permutations for a given plaque size and source strength resolution, assuming a 75 Gy apical prescription dose. These dose distributions were analyzed for conformity and homogeneity and compared to reference dose distributions from uniformly-loaded (125)I plaques. The most conformal and homogeneous dose distributions were reproduced within a reference eye environment to assess organ-at-risk (OAR) doses in the Pinnacle(3) treatment planning system (TPS). The gamma-index analysis method was used to quantitatively compare MC and TPS-generated dose distributions.


Concentrating > 97% of the total source strength in a single or pair of central (103)Pd seeds produced the most conformal dose distributions, with tumor basal doses a factor of 2-3 higher and OAR doses a factor of 2-3 lower than those of corresponding uniformly-loaded (125)I plaques. Concentrating 82-86% of the total source strength in peripherally-loaded (131)Cs seeds produced the most homogeneous dose distributions, with tumor basal doses 17-25% lower and OAR doses typically 20% higher than those of corresponding uniformly-loaded (125)I plaques. Gamma-index analysis found > 99% agreement between MC and TPS dose distributions.


A method was developed to select intra-plaque ring radionuclide compositions and source strengths to deliver more conformal and homogeneous tumor dose distributions than uniformly-loaded (125)I plaques. This method may support coordinated investigations of an appropriate clinical target for eye plaque brachytherapy.


TG-43 hybrid technique; conformity index; dosimetry; eye plaque; homogeneity index

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