TU-AB-BRB-01: Coverage Evaluation and Probabilistic Treatment Planning as a Margin Alternative



The accepted clinical method to accommodate targeting uncertainties inherent in fractionated external beam radiation therapy is to utilize GTV-to-CTV and CTV-to-PTV margins during the planning process to design a PTV-conformal static dose distribution on the planning image set. Ideally, margins are selected to ensure a high (e.g. >95%) target coverage probability (CP) in spite of inherent inter- and intra-fractional positional variations, tissue motions, and initial contouring uncertainties.

Robust optimization techniques, also known as probabilistic treatment planning techniques, explicitly incorporate the dosimetric consequences of targeting uncertainties by including CP evaluation into the planning optimization process along with coverage-based planning objectives. The treatment planner no longer needs to use PTV and/or PRV margins; instead robust optimization utilizes probability distributions of the underlying uncertainties in conjunction with CP-evaluation for the underlying CTVs and OARs to design an optimal treated volume.

This symposium will describe CP-evaluation methods as well as various robust planning techniques including use of probability-weighted dose distributions, probability-weighted objective functions, and coverage optimized planning. Methods to compute and display the effect of uncertainties on dose distributions will be presented. The use of robust planning to accommodate inter-fractional setup uncertainties, organ deformation, and contouring uncertainties will be examined as will its use to accommodate intra-fractional organ motion. Clinical examples will be used to inter-compare robust and margin-based planning, highlighting advantages of robust-plans in terms of target and normal tissue coverage. Robust-planning limitations as uncertainties approach zero and as the number of treatment fractions becomes small will be presented, as well as the factors limiting clinical implementation of robust planning.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.To understand robust-planning as a clinical alternative to using margin-based planning.
  • 2.To understand conceptual differences between uncertainty and predictable motion.
  • 3.To understand fundamental limitations of the PTV concept that probabilistic planning can overcome.
  • 4.To understand the major contributing factors to target and normal tissue coverage probability.
  • 5.To understand the similarities and differences of various robust planning techniques
  • 6.To understand the benefits and limitations of robust planning techniques