SU-E-T-353: Decoding the Beam Complexity in Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy Plans




Modern IMRT relies on computers to generate treatment plans of varied complexity. A highly complex treatment plan may use a large number of small and irregular beam apertures in order to achieve high dose conformity. However, excessive beam complexity can increase dosimetric uncertainty, prolong treatment time, and increase susceptibility to target or organ motion. In this study we sought to develop metrics to assess the complexity of IMRT beams and plans.


Based the information of leaf positions and MU for each beam segment, we calculated the following beam complexity metrics: aperture area, shape irregularity, and beam modulation. Then these beam complexity metrics were averaged to obtain the corresponding plan complexity metrics, using the beam MUs as weighting factors. We evaluated and compared the beam and plan complexity scores for 65 IMRT plans from 3 sites (prostate, head and neck, and spine). We also studied how the plan complexity scores were affected by adjusting inverse planning parameters.


For prostate IMRT, the lateral beams had large MUs and smaller shape irregularity, while the anterior or posterior beams had larger modulation values. On average, the prostate IMRT plans had the smallest shape irregularity and beam modulation; the HN IMRT plans had the largest aperture area, shape irregularity, and beam modulation; and the spine stereotactic IMRT plans often had small aperture area, which may be associated with relatively large discrepancies between calculated and measures doses. The plan complexity increased as the number of optimization iterations and the number of beam segments increased and as the minimum segment area decreased.


Complexity of IMRT beams and plans were quantified in terms of aperture area, shape irregularity and beam modulation. The complexity metrics varied among IMRT plans for different disease sites and were affected when the planning parameters were adjusted.