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Med Phys. 2009 Jun;36(6):1968-75.

An approach to using conventional brachytherapy software for clinical treatment planning of complex, Monte Carlo-based brachytherapy dose distributions.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


Certain brachytherapy dose distributions, such as those for LDR prostate implants, are readily modeled by treatment planning systems (TPS) that use the superposition principle of individual seed dose distributions to calculate the total dose distribution. However, dose distributions for brachytherapy treatments using high-Z shields or having significant material heterogeneities are not currently well modeled using conventional TPS. The purpose of this study is to establish a new treatment planning technique (Tufts technique) that could be applied in some clinical situations where the conventional approach is not acceptable and dose distributions present cylindrical symmetry. Dose distributions from complex brachytherapy source configurations determined with Monte Carlo methods were used as input data. These source distributions included the 2 and 3 cm diameter Valencia skin applicators from Nucletron, 4-8 cm diameter AccuBoost peripheral breast brachytherapy applicators from Advanced Radiation Therapy, and a 16 mm COMS-based eye plaque using 103Pd, 125I, and 131Cs seeds. Radial dose functions and 2D anisotropy functions were obtained by positioning the coordinate system origin along the dose distribution cylindrical axis of symmetry. Origin:tissue distance and active length were chosen to minimize TPS interpolation errors. Dosimetry parameters were entered into the PINNACLE TPS, and dose distributions were subsequently calculated and compared to the original Monte Carlo-derived dose distributions. The new planning technique was able to reproduce brachytherapy dose distributions for all three applicator types, producing dosimetric agreement typically within 2% when compared with Monte Carlo-derived dose distributions. Agreement between Monte Carlo-derived and planned dose distributions improved as the spatial resolution of the fitted dosimetry parameters improved. For agreement within 5% throughout the clinical volume, spatial resolution of dosimetry parameter data < or = 0.1 cm was required, and the virtual brachytherapy source data set included over 5000 data points. On the other hand, the lack of consideration for applicator heterogeneity effect caused conventional dose overestimates exceeding an order of magnitude in regions of clinical interest. This approach is rationalized by the improved dose estimates. In conclusion, a new technique was developed to incorporate complex Monte Carlo-based brachytherapy dose distributions into conventional TPS. These results are generalizable to other brachytherapy source types and other TPS.

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