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Radiat Oncol. 2013 Mar 25;8:73. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-8-73.

Evaluation and comparison of New 4DCT based strategies for proton treatment planning for lung tumors.

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Department of Radiation Medicine, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA.



To evaluate different strategies for proton lung treatment planning based on four-dimensional CT (4DCT) scans.


Twelve cases, involving only gross tumor volumes (GTV), were evaluated. Single image sets of (1) maximum intensity projection (MIP3) of end inhale (EI), middle exhale (ME) and end exhale (EE) images; (2) average intensity projection (AVG) of all phase images; and (3) EE images from 4DCT scans were selected as primary images for proton treatment planning. Internal target volumes (ITVs) outlined by a clinician were imported into MIP3, AVG, and EE images as planning targets. Initially, treatment uncertainties were not included in planning. Each plan was imported into phase images of 4DCT scans. Relative volumes of GTVs covered by 95% of prescribed dose and mean ipsilateral lung dose of a phase image obtained by averaging the dose in inspiration and expiration phases were used to evaluate the quality of a plan for a particular case. For comparing different planning strategies, the mean of the averaged relative volumes of GTVs covered by 95% of prescribed dose and its standard deviation for each planning strategy for all cases were used. Then, treatment uncertainties were included in planning. Each plan was recalculated in phase images of 4DCT scans. Same strategies were used for plan evaluation except dose-volume histograms of the planning target volumes (PTVs) instead of GTVs were used and the mean and standard deviation of the relative volumes of PTVs covered by 95% of prescribed dose and the ipsilateral lung dose were used to compare different planning strategies.


MIP3 plans without treatment uncertainties yielded 96.7% of the mean relative GTV covered by 95% of prescribed dose (standard deviations of 5.7% for all cases). With treatment uncertainties, MIP3 plans yielded 99.5% of mean relative PTV covered by 95% of prescribed dose (standard deviations of 0.7%). Inclusion of treatment uncertainties improved PTV dose coverage but also increased the ipsilateral mean lung dose in general, and reduced the variations of the PTV dose coverage among different cases. Plans based on conventional axial CT scan (CVCT) gave the poorest PTV dose coverage (about 96% of mean relative PTV covered by 95% isodose) compared to MIP3 and EE plans, which resulted in 100% of PTV covered by 95% isodose for tumors with relatively large motion. AVG plans demonstrated PTV dose coverage of 89.8% and 94.4% for cases with small tumors. MIP3 plans demonstrated superior tumor coverage and were least sensitive to tumor size and tumor location.


MIP3 plans based on 4DCT scans were the best planning strategy for proton lung treatment planning.

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