Purpose: Various strategies to select beneficial beam ensembles for intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) have been suggested over the years. These beam angle selection (BAS) strategies are usually evaluated against reference configurations applying equispaced coplanar beams but they are not compared to one another. Here, the authors present a meta analysis of four BAS strategies that incorporates fluence optimization (FO) into BAS by combinatorial optimization (CO) and one BAS strategy that decouples FO from BAS, i.e., spherical cluster analysis (SCA). The underlying parameters of the BAS process are investigated and the dosimetric benefits of the BAS strategies are quantified.
Methods: For three intracranial lesions in proximity to organs at risk (OARs) the authors compare treatment plans applying equispaced coplanar beam ensembles with treatment plans using five different BAS strategies, i.e., four CO techniques and SCA, to establish coplanar and noncoplanar beam ensembles. Treatment plans applying 5, 7, 9, and 11 beams are investigated. For the CO strategies the authors perform BAS runs with a 5 degrees, 10 degrees, 15 degrees, and 20 degrees angular resolution, which corresponds to a minimum of 18 coplanar and a maximum of 1400 noncoplanar candidate beams. In total 272 treatment plans with different BAS settings are generated for every patient. The quality of the treatment plans is compared based on the protection of OARs yet integral dose, target homogeneity, and target conformity are also considered.
Results: It is possible to reduce the average mean and maximum doses in OARs by more than 4 Gy (1 Gy) with optimized noncoplanar (coplanar) beam ensembles found with BAS by CO or SCA. For BAS including FO by CO, the individual algorithm used and the angular resolution in the space of candidate beams does not have a crucial impact on the quality of the resulting treatment plans. All CO algorithms yield similar target conformity and slightly improved target homogeneity in comparison to equispaced coplanar setups. Furthermore, optimized coplanar (noncoplanar) beam ensembles enabled more than a 6% (5%) reduction of the integral dose. For SCA, however, integral dose was increased and target conformity was decreased in comparison to equispaced coplanar setups-especially for a small number of beams.
Conclusion: Both BAS strategies incorporating FO by CO and independent BAS strategies excluding FO provide dose savings in OARs for optimized coplanar and especially noncoplanar beam ensembles; they should not be neglected in the clinic.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published