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PLoS One. 2018 Mar 5;13(3):e0193904. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193904. eCollection 2018.

Proton range verification in inhomogeneous tissue: Treatment planning system vs. measurement vs. Monte Carlo simulation.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Biomedical Engineering and Research Institute of Biomedical Engineering, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


In particle radiotherapy, range uncertainty is an important issue that needs to be overcome. Because high-dose conformality can be achieved using a particle beam, a small uncertainty can affect tumor control or cause normal-tissue complications. From this perspective, the treatment planning system (TPS) must be accurate. However, there is a well-known inaccuracy regarding dose computation in heterogeneous media. This means that verifying the uncertainty level is one of the prerequisites for TPS commissioning. We evaluated the range accuracy of the dose computation algorithm implemented in a commercial TPS, and Monte Carlo (MC) simulation against measurement using a CT calibration phantom. A treatment plan was produced for eight different materials plugged into a phantom, and two-dimensional doses were measured using a chamber array. The measurement setup and beam delivery were simulated by MC code. For an infinite solid water phantom, the gamma passing rate between the measurement and TPS was 97.7%, and that between the measurement and MC was 96.5%. However, gamma passing rates between the measurement and TPS were 49.4% for the lung and 67.8% for bone, and between the measurement and MC were 85.6% for the lung and 100.0% for bone tissue. For adipose, breast, brain, liver, and bone mineral, the gamma passing rates computed by TPS were 91.7%, 90.6%, 81.7%, 85.6%, and 85.6%, respectively. The gamma passing rates for MC for adipose, breast, brain, liver, and bone mineral were 100.0%, 97.2%, 95.0%, 98.9%, and 97.8%, respectively. In conclusion, the described procedure successfully evaluated the allowable range uncertainty for TPS commissioning. The TPS dose calculation is inefficient in heterogeneous media with large differences in density, such as lung or bone tissue. Therefore, the limitations of TPS in heterogeneous media should be understood and applied in clinical practice.

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