Toward the development of intrafraction tumor deformation tracking using a dynamic multi-leaf collimator




Intrafraction deformation limits targeting accuracy in radiotherapy. Studies show tumor deformation of over 10 mm for both single tumor deformation and system deformation (due to differential motion between primary tumors and involved lymph nodes). Such deformation cannot be adapted to with current radiotherapy methods. The objective of this study was to develop and experimentally investigate the ability of a dynamic multi-leaf collimator (DMLC) tracking system to account for tumor deformation.


To compensate for tumor deformation, the DMLC tracking strategy is to warp the planned beam aperture directly to conform to the new tumor shape based on real time tumor deformation input. Two deformable phantoms that correspond to a single tumor and a tumor system were developed. The planar deformations derived from the phantom images in beam's eye view were used to guide the aperture warping. An in-house deformable image registration software was developed to automatically trigger the registration once new target image was acquired and send the computed deformation to the DMLC tracking software. Because the registration speed is not fast enough to implement the experiment in real-time manner, the phantom deformation only proceeded to the next position until registration of the current deformation position was completed. The deformation tracking accuracy was evaluated by a geometric target coverage metric defined as the sum of the area incorrectly outside and inside the ideal aperture. The individual contributions from the deformable registration algorithm and the finite leaf width to the tracking uncertainty were analyzed. Clinical proof-of-principle experiment of deformation tracking using previously acquired MR images of a lung cancer patient was implemented to represent the MRI-Linac environment. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatment delivered with enabled deformation tracking was simulated and demonstrated.


The first experimental investigation of adapting to tumor deformation has been performed using simple deformable phantoms. For the single tumor deformation, the Au+Ao was reduced over 56% when deformation was larger than 2 mm. Overall, the total improvement was 82%. For the tumor system deformation, the Au+Ao reductions were all above 75% and the total Au+Ao improvement was 86%. Similar coverage improvement was also found in simulating deformation tracking during IMRT delivery. The deformable image registration algorithm was identified as the dominant contributor to the tracking error rather than the finite leaf width. The discrepancy between the warped beam shape and the ideal beam shape due to the deformable registration was observed to be partially compensated during leaf fitting due to the finite leaf width. The clinical proof-of-principle experiment demonstrated the feasibility of intrafraction deformable tracking for clinical scenarios.


For the first time, we developed and demonstrated an experimental system that is capable of adapting the MLC aperture to account for tumor deformation. This work provides a potentially widely available management method to effectively account for intrafractional tumor deformation. This proof-of-principle study is the first experimental step toward the development of an image-guided radiotherapy system to treat deforming tumors in real-time.