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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1991 May 15;21(1):71-8.

Dose-volume histograms.

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Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110.


A plot of a cumulative dose-volume frequency distribution, commonly known as a dose-volume histogram (DVH), graphically summarizes the simulated radiation distribution within a volume of interest of a patient which would result from a proposed radiation treatment plan. DVHs show promise as tools for comparing rival treatment plans for a specific patient by clearly presenting the uniformity of dose in the target volume and any hot spots in adjacent normal organs or tissues. However, because of the loss of positional information in the volume(s) under consideration, it should not be the sole criterion for plan evaluation. DVHs can also be used as input data to estimate tumor control probability (TCP) and normal tissue complication probability (NTCP). The sensitivity of TCP and NTCP calculations to small changes in the DVH shape points to the need for an accurate method for computing DVHs. We present a discussion of the methodology for generating and plotting the DVHs, some caveats, limitations on their use and the general experience of four hospitals using DVHs.

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