Commissioning of intensity modulated neutron radiotherapy (IMNRT)




Intensity modulated neutron radiotherapy (IMNRT) has been developed using inhouse treatment planning and delivery systems at the Karmanos Cancer Center/Wayne State University Fast Neutron Therapy facility. The process of commissioning IMNRT for clinical use is presented here. Results of commissioning tests are provided including validation measurements using representative patient plans as well as those from the TG-119 test suite.


IMNRT plans were created using the Varian Eclipse optimization algorithm and an inhouse planning system for calculation of neutron dose distributions. Tissue equivalent ionization chambers and an ionization chamber array were used for point dose and planar dose distribution comparisons with calculated values. Validation plans were delivered to water and virtual water phantoms using TG-119 measurement points and evaluation techniques. Photon and neutron doses were evaluated both inside and outside the target volume for a typical IMNRT plan to determine effects of intensity modulation on the photon dose component. Monitor unit linearity and effects of beam current and gantry angle on output were investigated, and an independent validation of neutron dosimetry was obtained.


While IMNRT plan quality is superior to conventional fast neutron therapy plans for clinical sites such as prostate and head and neck, it is inferior to photon IMRT for most TG-119 planning goals, particularly for complex cases. This results significantly from current limitations on the number of segments. Measured and calculated doses for 11 representative plans (six prostate/five head and neck) agreed to within −0.8 ± 1.4% and 5.0 ± 6.0% within and outside the target, respectively. Nearly all (22/24) ion chamber point measurements in the two phantom arrangements were within the respective confidence intervals for the quantity [(measured-planned)/prescription dose] derived in TG-119. Mean differences for all measurements were 0.5% (max = 7.0%) and 1.4% (max = 4.1%) in water and virtual water, respectively. The mean gamma pass rate for all cases was 92.8% (min = 88.6%). These pass rates are lower than typically achieved with photon IMRT, warranting development of a planar dosimetry system designed specifically for IMNRT and/or the improvement of neutron beam modeling in the penumbral region. The fractional photon dose component did not change significantly in a typical IMNRT plan versus a conventional fast neutron therapy plan, and IMNRT delivery is not expected to significantly alter the RBE. All other commissioning results were considered satisfactory for clinical implementation of IMNRT, including the external neutron dose validation, which agreed with the predicted neutron dose to within 1%.


IMNRT has been successfully commissioned for clinical use. While current plan quality is inferior to photon IMRT, it is superior to conventional fast neutron therapy. Ion chamber validation results for IMNRT commissioning are also comparable to those typically achieved with photon IMRT. Gamma pass rates for planar dose distributions are lower than typically observed for photon IMRT but may be improved with improved planar dosimetry equipment and beam modeling techniques. In the meantime, patient-specific quality assurance measurements should rely more heavily on point dose measurements with tissue equivalent ionization chambers. No significant technical impediments are anticipated in the clinical implementation of IMNRT as described here.