Dosimetric evaluation of the interplay effect in respiratory-gated RapidArc radiation therapy




Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) with gating capability has had increasing adoption in many clinics in the United States. In this new technique, dose rate, gantry rotation speed, and the leaf motion speed of multileaf collimators (MLCs) are modulated dynamically during gated beam delivery to achieve highly conformal dose coverage of the target and normal tissue sparing. Compared with the traditional gated intensity-modulated radiation therapy technique, this complicated beam delivery technique may result in larger dose errors due to the intrafraction tumor motion. The purpose of this work is to evaluate the dosimetric influence of the interplay effect for the respiration-gated VMAT technique (RapidArc, Varian Medical Systems, Palo Alto, CA). Our work consisted of two parts: (1) Investigate the interplay effect for different target residual errors during gated RapidArc delivery using a one-dimensional moving phantom capable of producing stable sinusoidal movement; (2) Evaluate the dosimetric influence in ten clinical patients’ treatment plans using a moving phantom driven with a patient-specific respiratory curve.


For the first part of this study, four plans were created with a spherical target for varying residual motion of 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 cm. Appropriate gating windows were applied for each. The dosimetric effect was evaluated using EDR2 film by comparing the gated delivery with static delivery. For the second part of the project, ten gated lung stereotactic body radiotherapy cases were selected and reoptimized to be delivered by the gated RapidArc technique. These plans were delivered to a phantom, and again the gated treatments were compared to static deliveries by the same methods.


For regular sinusoidal motion, the dose delivered to the target was not substantially affected by the gating windows when evaluated with the gamma statistics, suggesting the interplay effect has a small role in respiratory-gated RapidArc therapy. Varied results were seen when gated therapy was performed on the patient plans that could only be attributed to differences in patient respiratory patterns. Patients whose plans had the largest percentage of pixels failing the gamma statistics exhibited irregular breathing patterns including substantial interpatient variation in depth of respiration.


The interplay effect has a limited impact on gated RapidArc therapy when evaluated with a linear phantom. Variations in patient breathing patterns, however, are of much greater clinical significance. Caution must be taken when evaluating patients’ respiratory efforts for gated arc therapy.