Purpose:Accurate patient positioning is crucial in radiation therapy. To fully benefit from the preciseness of proton therapy, image guided patient positioning and verification system is typically utilized in proton therapy. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the inter-observer variability of image alignment using a commercially available patient positioning and verification system in proton therapy.
Methods:The VeriSuite patient positioning and verification system (MedCom GmbH, Darmstadt, Germany) provides a six degrees of freedom correction vector by registering two orthogonal x-ray images to digitally reconstructed radiograph (DRR) images that are rendered in real time from the planning computed tomography (CT) images. Six cases of various disease sites, including brain, head & neck, lung, prostate, pelvis, and bladder, were used in this study. For each case, the planning CT images and a daily orthogonal x-ray portal image pair were loaded into the VeriSuite system. The same set of x-ray images and CT images for each case were reviewed and aligned separately by each of the 10 radiation therapist, following the clinical procedure for the corresponding disease site. The resulting correction vectors were then recorded and analyzed.
Results:Our study shows that the inter-observer variation (One standard deviation) in image alignment using the VeriSuite system ranged from 1.2 to 2.0 mm for translational correction and from 0.6 to 1.3 degrees for rotational correction for the six cases. The use of fiducial markers for prostate patient alignment achieved the least inter-observer variation while the bladder case produced the largest.
Conclusions:Inter-observer variation in image alignment could be relatively large, depending on the complexity of patient anatomy, image alignment approach, and user experience and software limitations. Automatic registration and fiducial markers could potentially be used to align patient more accurately and consistently. To ensure adequate tumor coverage in proton therapy, inter-observer variability in patient alignment should be carefully evaluated and accounted for in patient setup uncertainty analysis and treatment planning margin determination.
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