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Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Oct;8(5):343-52.

Megavoltage CT in helical tomotherapy - clinical advantages and limitations of special physical characteristics.

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Department of Radiation Oncology University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg Germany.


Helical tomotherapy is a form of image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy that introduces the ring gantry concept into radiation oncology. The system is a combination of a therapeutic linear accelerator and a megavoltage CT-scanner. This work describes the clinical experience with megavoltage CT with 456 patients in more than 11000 fractions. It also provides a review of the current literature of the possibilities and limitations of megavoltage CT. Between July 2006 and October 2008 456 patients were treated with helical tomotherapy and a pretreatment megavoltage CT was performed in 98.1% of the 11821 fractions to perform position control and correction. CT image acquisition was done with 3.5 MV x-rays in the helical tomotherapy machine. MVCT was used for dose recalculations to quantify doses distributions in cases of changing geometry, tumor shrinkage or presence of metal implants. Inverse treatment planning for prostate cancer patients with bilateral hip replacements was performed based upon an MVCT. A mean 3D-correction vector of 7.1mm with a considerable variation was detected and immediately corrected. Mean shifts were lateral 0.9mm (sd 5.0mm), mean longitudinal shift 1.0mm (sd 5.1mm) and mean vertical shift 3.2mm (sd 5.2mm). The MVCT enables imaging of anatomical structures in the presence of dental metal or orthopedic implants. Especially in these cases, dose recomputations can increase the precision of dose calculations. Due to a mean 3d correction vector of more than 7mm and a variation of corrections of more than 5mm daily image-guidance is recommended to achieve a precise dose application. The MVCT shows evident advantages in cases with metal implants but has limitations due to a reduced soft tissue contrast. Compared with megavoltage cone-beam-CT the tomotherapy fan beam CT adds less extra dose fore the patient and has a better soft tissue contrast.

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