Validation of the proton range accuracy and optimization of CT calibration curves utilizing range probing

Meijers, A., Free, J., Wagenaar, D., Deffet, S., Knopf, A-C., Langendijk, J. A. & Both, S., 2-Jan-2020, In : Physics in Medicine and Biology.

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  • Validation of the proton range accuracy and optimization of CT calibration curves utilizing range probing

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PURPOSE: Proton therapy is affected by range uncertainty, which is partly caused by an ambiguous conversion from x-ray attenuation to proton stopping power. CT calibration curves, or Hounsfield look-up tables (HLUTs), are institution-specific and may be a source of systematic errors in treatment planning. A range probing method to verify, optimize and validate HLUTs for proton treatment is proposed.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: An initial HLUT was determined according to the stoichiometric approach. For HLUT validation, three types of animal tissue phantoms were prepared: a pig's head, "thorax" and femur. CT scans of the phantoms were taken and a structure, simulating a water slab, was added on the scan distal to the phantoms to mimic the detector used for integral depth-dose measurements. The CT scans were imported into the TPS to calculate individual pencil beams directed through the phantoms. The phantoms were positioned at the therapy system isocenter using x-ray imaging. Shoot-through pencil beams were delivered, and depth-dose profiles were measured using a multi-layer ionization chamber. Measured depth-dose curves were compared to the calculated curves and the range error per spot was determined. Based on the water equivalent path length (WEPL) of individual spot, a range error margin was defined. Ratios between measured error and theoretical margins were calculated per spot. The HLUT optimization was performed by identifying systematic shifts of the mean range error per phantom and minimizing the ratios between range errors and uncertainty margins.

RESULTS: After optimization, the ratios of the actual range error and the uncertainty margin over the complete data set did not exceed 0.75 (1.5SD), indicating that the actual errors are covered by the theoretical uncertainty recipe.

CONCLUSIONS: The feasibility of using range probing to assess range errors was demonstrated. The theoretical uncertainty margins in the institution-specific setting potentially may be reduced by ∼25%.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2-Jan-2020

ID: 111838891