Upcoming veterinary trials in microbeam radiation therapy (MRT) demand for more advanced irradiation techniques than in preclinical research with small animals. The treatment of deep-seated tumors in cats and dogs with MRT requires sophisticated irradiation geometries from multiple ports, which impose further efforts to spare the normal tissue surrounding the target.
This work presents the development and benchmarking of a precise patient alignment protocol for MRT at the biomedical beamline ID17 of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The positioning of the patient prior to irradiation is verified by taking x-ray projection images from different angles.
Using four external fiducial markers of 1.7 mm diameter and computed tomography-based treatment planning, a target alignment error of less than 2 mm can be achieved with an angular deviation of less than 2∘. Minor improvements on the protocol and the use of smaller markers indicate that even a precision better than 1 mm is technically feasible. Detailed investigations concerning the imaging dose lead to the conclusion that doses for skull radiographs lie in the same range as dose reference levels for human head radiographs. A currently used online dose monitor for MRT has been proven to give reliable results for the imaging beam.
The ESRF biomedical beamline ID17 is technically ready to apply conformal image-guided MRT from multiple ports to large animals during future veterinary trials.