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Med Phys. 2008 Aug;35(8):3554-64.

A fiducial detection algorithm for real-time image guided IMRT based on simultaneous MV and kV imaging.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5847, USA.


The advantage of highly conformal dose techniques such as 3DCRT and IMRT is limited by intrafraction organ motion. A new approach to gain near real-time 3D positions of internally implanted fiducial markers is to analyze simultaneous onboard kV beam and treatment MV beam images (from fluoroscopic or electronic portal image devices). Before we can use this real-time image guidance for clinical 3DCRT and IMRT treatments, four outstanding issues need to be addressed. (1) How will fiducial motion blur the image and hinder tracking fiducials? kV and MV images are acquired while the tumor is moving at various speeds. We find that a fiducial can be successfully detected at a maximum linear speed of 1.6 cm/s. (2) How does MV beam scattering affect kV imaging? We investigate this by varying MV field size and kV source to imager distance, and find that common treatment MV beams do not hinder fiducial detection in simultaneous kV images. (3) How can one detect fiducials on images from 3DCRT and IMRT treatment beams when the MV fields are modified by a multileaf collimator (MLC)? The presented analysis is capable of segmenting a MV field from the blocking MLC and detecting visible fiducials. This enables the calculation of nearly real-time 3D positions of markers during a real treatment. (4) Is the analysis fast enough to track fiducials in nearly real time? Multiple methods are adopted to predict marker positions and reduce search regions. The average detection time per frame for three markers in a 1024 x 768 image was reduced to 0.1 s or less. Solving these four issues paves the way to tracking moving fiducial markers throughout a 3DCRT or IMRT treatment. Altogether, these four studies demonstrate that our algorithm can track fiducials in real time, on degraded kV images (MV scatter), in rapidly moving tumors (fiducial blurring), and even provide useful information in the case when some fiducials are blocked from view by the MLC. This technique can provide a gating signal or be used for intra-fractional tumor tracking on a Linac equipped with a kV imaging system. Any motion exceeding a preset threshold can warn the therapist to suspend a treatment session and reposition the patient.

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