WE-AB-201-03: TPS Commissioning and QA: Incorporating the Entire Planning Process



Treatment planning systems (TPS) are a cornerstone of modern radiation therapy. Errors in their commissioning or use can have a devastating impact on many patients. To support safe and high quality care, medical physicists must conduct efficient and proper commissioning, good clinical integration, and ongoing quality assurance (QA) of the TPS. AAPM Task Group 53 and related publications have served as seminal benchmarks for TPS commissioning and QA over the past two decades. Over the same time, continuing innovations have made the TPS even more complex and more central to the clinical process. Medical goals are now expressed in terms of the dose and margins around organs and tissues that are delineated from multiple imaging modalities (CT, MR and PET); and even temporally resolved (i.e., 4D) imaging. This information is passed on to optimization algorithms to establish accelerator movements that are programmed directly for IMRT, VMAT and stereotactic treatments. These advances have made commissioning and QA of the TPS much more challenging.

This education session reviews up-to-date experience and guidance on this subject; including the recently published AAPM Medical Physics Practice Guideline (MPPG) #5 “Commissioning and QA of Treatment Planning Dose Calculations: Megavoltage Photon and Electron Beams”.

Treatment Planning System Commissioning and QA: Challenges and Opportunities (Greg Salomons)

This session will provide some key background and review publications describing prominent incidents relating to TPS commissioning and QA. Traditional approaches have been hardware and feature oriented. They aim to establish a functional configuration and establish specifications for regular testing of features (like dose calculation) to assure stable operation and detect failures. With the advent of more complex systems, more patient-specific testing has also been adopted. A number of actual TPS defects will be presented along with heuristics for identifying similar defects in the future. Finally, the Gamma test has become a popular metric for reporting TPS Commissioning and QA results. It simplifies complex testing into a numerical index, but noisy data and casual application can make it misleading. A brief review of the issues around the use of the Gamma test will be presented.

TPS commissioning and QA: A process orientation and application of control charts (Michael Sharpe)

A framework for commissioning a treatment planning system will be presented, focusing on preparations, practical aspects of configuration, priorities, specifications, and establishing performance. The complexity of the modern TPS make modular testing of features inadequate, and modern QA tools can provide “too much information” about the performance of techniques like IMRT and VMAT. We have adopted a process orientation and quality tools, like control charts, for ongoing TPS QA and assessment of patient-specific tests. The trending nature of these tools reveals the overall performance of the TPS system, and quantifies the variations that arise from individual plans, discrete calculations, and experimentation based on discrete measurements. Examples demonstrating application of these tools to TPS QA will be presented.

TPS commissioning and QA: Incorporating the entire planning process (Sasa Mutic)

The TPS and its features do not perform in isolation. Instead, the features and modules are key components in a complex process that begins with CT Simulation and extends to treatment delivery, along with image guidance and verification. Most importantly, the TPS is used by people working in a multi-disciplinary environment. It is very difficult to predict the outcomes of human interactions with software. Therefore, an interdisciplinary approach to training, commissioning and QA will be presented, along with an approach to the physics chart check and end-to-end testing as a tool for TPS QA. The role of standardization and automation in QA will also be discussed.

The recommendations of MPPG #5 and practical implementation strategies (Jennifer Smilowitz)

The recently published recommendations from Task Group No. 244, Medical Physics Practice Guideline on Commissioning and QA of Treatment Planning Dose Calculations: Megavoltage Photon and Electron Beams will be presented. The recommendations focus on the validation of commissioning data and dose calculations. Tolerance values for non-IMRT beam configurations are summarized based on established criteria and data collected by the IROC. More stringent evaluation criteria for IMRT dose calculations are suggested to test the limitations of the TPS dose algorithms for advanced delivery conditions. The MPPG encourages users to create a suite of validation tests for dose calculation for various conditions for static photon beams, heterogeneities, IMRT/VMAT and electron beams. This test suite is intended to be used for subsequent testing, including TPS software upgrades. In the past, the recommendations of some reports have not been widely implemented due to practical limitations. Implementation strategies, tools and processes developed by multiple centers for efficient and “do-able” MPPG #5 testing will be presented, as well as a discussion on the overall validation experience.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.Identify some of the key documents relevant for TPS commissioning and QA
  • 2.Understand strategies for testing TPS software
  • 3.Gain a practical knowledge of the Gamma test criteria
  • 4.Increase familiarity with the process of commissioning a TPS
  • 5.Learn about the use of Control Charts for TPS QA
  • 6.Review the role of the TPS in the overall planning process
  • 7.Increase awareness of the link between TPS QA and chart checking
  • 8.Gain an increased appreciation for the importance of interdisciplinary communication
  • 9.Understand the new recommendations from MPPG #5 on TPS Dose Algorithm Commissioning and QC/QA
  • 10.Learn practical implementation processes and tools for MPPG #5 validation recommendations