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Int J Health Care Qual Assur. 2017 Mar 13;30(2):90-102. doi: 10.1108/IJHCQA-03-2016-0028.

A method for evaluating treatment quality using in vivo EPID dosimetry and statistical process control in radiation therapy.

Author information

Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Newcastle , Callaghan, Australia.
Radiation Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital, Waratah, Australia.
School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Newcastle , Callaghan, Australia.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Central Coast Cancer Centre, Gosford, Australia.


Purpose Due to increasing complexity, modern radiotherapy techniques require comprehensive quality assurance (QA) programmes, that to date generally focus on the pre-treatment stage. The purpose of this paper is to provide a method for an individual patient treatment QA evaluation and identification of a "quality gap" for continuous quality improvement. Design/methodology/approach A statistical process control (SPC) was applied to evaluate treatment delivery using in vivo electronic portal imaging device (EPID) dosimetry. A moving range control chart was constructed to monitor the individual patient treatment performance based on a control limit generated from initial data of 90 intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and ten volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) patient deliveries. A process capability index was used to evaluate the continuing treatment quality based on three quality classes: treatment type-specific, treatment linac-specific, and body site-specific. Findings The determined control limits were 62.5 and 70.0 per cent of the χ pass-rate for IMRT and VMAT deliveries, respectively. In total, 14 patients were selected for a pilot study the results of which showed that about 1 per cent of all treatments contained errors relating to unexpected anatomical changes between treatment fractions. Both rectum and pelvis cancer treatments demonstrated process capability indices were less than 1, indicating the potential for quality improvement and hence may benefit from further assessment. Research limitations/implications The study relied on the application of in vivo EPID dosimetry for patients treated at the specific centre. Sampling patients for generating the control limits were limited to 100 patients. Whilst the quantitative results are specific to the clinical techniques and equipment used, the described method is generally applicable to IMRT and VMAT treatment QA. Whilst more work is required to determine the level of clinical significance, the authors have demonstrated the capability of the method for both treatment specific QA and continuing quality improvement. Practical implications The proposed method is a valuable tool for assessing the accuracy of treatment delivery whilst also improving treatment quality and patient safety. Originality/value Assessing in vivo EPID dosimetry with SPC can be used to improve the quality of radiation treatment for cancer patients.


Continuous quality improvement; In vivo EPID dosimetry; Quality assurance; Radiation therapy; Statistical process control

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