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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011 Dec 1;81(5):1582-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2010.09.029. Epub 2010 Nov 13.

Patient-specific Monte Carlo-based dose-kernel approach for inverse planning in afterloading brachytherapy.

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  • 1Département de Radio-Oncologie et Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de l'Université Laval, Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Québec, QC, Canada.



Brachytherapy planning software relies on the Task Group report 43 dosimetry formalism. This formalism, based on a water approximation, neglects various heterogeneous materials present during treatment. Various studies have suggested that these heterogeneities should be taken into account to improve the treatment quality. The present study sought to demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating Monte Carlo (MC) dosimetry within an inverse planning algorithm to improve the dose conformity and increase the treatment quality.


The method was based on precalculated dose kernels in full patient geometries, representing the dose distribution of a brachytherapy source at a single dwell position using MC simulations and the Geant4 toolkit. These dose kernels are used by the inverse planning by simulated annealing tool to produce a fast MC-based plan. A test was performed for an interstitial brachytherapy breast treatment using two different high-dose-rate brachytherapy sources: the microSelectron iridium-192 source and the electronic brachytherapy source Axxent operating at 50 kVp.


A research version of the inverse planning by simulated annealing algorithm was combined with MC to provide a method to fully account for the heterogeneities in dose optimization, using the MC method. The effect of the water approximation was found to depend on photon energy, with greater dose attenuation for the lower energies of the Axxent source compared with iridium-192. For the latter, an underdosage of 5.1% for the dose received by 90% of the clinical target volume was found.


A new method to optimize afterloading brachytherapy plans that uses MC dosimetric information was developed. Including computed tomography-based information in MC dosimetry in the inverse planning process was shown to take into account the full range of scatter and heterogeneity conditions. This led to significant dose differences compared with the Task Group report 43 approach for the Axxent source.

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