Feasibility of using ultrasound for real-time tracking during radiotherapy



This study was designed to examine the feasibility of utilizing transabdominal ultrasound for real-time monitoring of target motion during a radiotherapy fraction. A clinical Acuson 128/XP ultrasound scanner was used to image various stationary and moving phantoms while an Elekta SL25 linear accelerator radiotherapy treatment machine was operating. The ultrasound transducer was positioned to image from the outer edge of the treatment field at all times. Images were acquired to videotape and analyzed using in-house motion tracking algorithms to determine the effect of the SL25 on the quality of the displacement measurements. To determine the effect on the dosimetry of the presence of the transducer, dose distributions were examined using thermoluminescent dosimeters loaded into an Alderson Rando phantom and exposed to a 10×10cm2 treatment field with and without the ultrasound transducer mounted 2.5cm outside the field edge. The ultrasound images acquired a periodic noise that was shown to occur at the pulsing frequency of the treatment machine. Images of moving tissue were analyzed and the standard deviation on the displacement estimates within the tissue was identical with the SL25 on and off. This implies that the periodic noise did not significantly degrade the precision of the tracking algorithm (which was better than 0.01mm). The presence of the transducer at the surface of the phantom presented only a 2.6% change to the dose distribution to the volume of the phantom. The feasibility of ultrasonic motion tracking during radiotherapy treatment is demonstrated. This presents the possibility of developing a noninvasive, real-time and low-cost method of tracking target motion during a treatment fraction.