Impact of leaf motion constraints on IMAT plan quality, deliver accuracy, and efficiency




Intensity modulated arc therapy (IMAT) is a radiation therapy delivery technique that combines the efficiency of arc based delivery with the dose painting capabilities of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). A key challenge in developing robust inverse planning solutions for IMAT is the need to account for the connectivity of the beam shapes as the gantry rotates from one beam angle to the next. To overcome this challenge, inverse planning solutions typically impose a leaf motion constraint that defines the maximum distance a multileaf collimator (MLC) leaf can travel between adjacent control points. The leaf motion constraint ensures the deliverability of the optimized plan, but it also impacts the plan quality, the delivery accuracy, and the delivery efficiency. In this work, the authors have studied leaf motion constraints in detail and have developed recommendations for optimizing the balance between plan quality and delivery efficiency.


Two steps were used to generate optimized IMAT treatment plans. The first was the direct machine parameter optimization (DMPO) inverse planning module in the Pinnacle3 planning system. Then, a home-grown arc sequencer was applied to convert the optimized intensity maps into deliverable IMAT arcs. IMAT leaf motion constraints were imposed using limits of between 1 and 30 mm/deg. Dose distributions were calculated using the convolution/superposition algorithm in the Pinnacle3 planning system. The IMAT plan dose calculation accuracy was examined using a finer sampling calculation and the quality assurance verification. All plans were delivered on an Elekta Synergy with an 80-leaf MLC and were verified using an IBA MatriXX 2D ion chamber array inserted in a MultiCube solid water phantom.


The use of a more restrictive leaf motion constraint (less than 1–2 mm/deg) results in inferior plan quality. A less restrictive leaf motion constraint (greater than 5 mm/deg) results in improved plan quality but can lead to less accurate dose distribution as evidenced by increasing discrepancies between the planned and the delivered doses. For example, the results from our patient-specific quality assurance measurements demonstrated that the average gamma analysis passing rate decreased from 98% to 80% when the allowable leaf motion increased from 3 to 20 mm/deg. Larger leaf motion constraints also led to longer treatment delivery times (2 to 4 folds) due to the additional MLC leaf motion.


Leaf motion constraints significantly impact IMAT plans in terms of plan quality, delivery accuracy, and delivery efficiency with the impact magnified for more complex cases. Our studies indicate that a leaf motion constraint of 2 to 3 mm/deg of gantry rotation can provide an optimal balance between plan quality, delivery accuracy, and efficiency.