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Med Phys. 2012 Jun;39(6):2964-71. doi: 10.1118/1.4709606.

A hybrid electron and photon IMRT planning technique that lowers normal tissue integral patient dose using standard hardware.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Danvers, MA 01923, USA.



To present a mixed electron and photon IMRT planning technique using electron beams with an energy range of 6-22 MeV and standard hardware that minimizes integral dose to patients for targets as deep as 7.5 cm.


Ten brain cases, two lung, a thyroid, an abdominal, and a parotid case were planned using two planning techniques: a photon-only IMRT (IMRT) versus a mixed modality treatment (E+IMRT) that includes an enface electron beam and a photon IMRT portion that ensures a uniform target coverage. The electron beam is delivered using a regular cutout placed in an electron cone. The electron energy was chosen to provide a good trade-off between minimizing integral dose and generating a uniform, deliverable plan. The authors choose electron energies that cover the deepest part of PTV with the 65%-70% isodose line. The normal tissue integral dose, the dose for ring structures around the PTV, and the volumes of the 75%, 50%, and 25% isosurfaces were used to compare the dose distributions generated by the two planning techniques.


The normal tissue integral dose was lowered by about 20% by the E+IMRT plans compared to the photon-only IMRT ones for most studied cases. With the exception of lungs, the dose reduction associated to the E+IMRT plans was more pronounced further away from the target. The average dose ratio delivered to the 0-2 cm and the 2-4 cm ring structures for brain patients for the two planning techniques were 89.6% and 70.8%, respectively. The enhanced dose sparing away from the target for the brain patients can also be observed in the ratio of the 75%, 50%, and 25% isodose line volumes for the two techniques, which decreases from 85.5% to 72.6% and further to 65.1%, respectively. For lungs, the lateral electron beams used in the E+IMRT plans were perpendicular to the mostly anterior/posterior photon beams, generating much more conformal plans.


The authors proved that even using the existing electron delivery hardware, a mixed electron/photon planning technique (E+IMRT) can decrease the normal tissue integral dose compared to a photon-only IMRT plan. Different planning approaches can be enabled by the use of an electron beam directed toward organs at risk distal to the target, which are still spared due the rapid dose fall-off of the electron beam. Examples of such cases are the lateral electron beams in the thoracic region that do not irradiate the heart and contralateral lung, electron beams pointed toward kidneys in the abdominal region, or beams treating brain lesions pointed toward the brainstem or optical apparatus. For brain, electron vertex beams can also be used without irradiating the whole body. Since radiation retreatments become more and more common, minimizing the normal tissue integral dose and the dose delivered to tissues surrounding the target, as enabled by E+IMRT type techniques, should receive more attention.

© 2012 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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