Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is a means of delivering radiation therapy where the intensity of the beam is varied within the treatment field. This is done by dividing a large beam into many small beamlets. Dose constraints are assigned to both the target and sensitive structures and computerised inverse optimization is performed to find the individual weights of this large number of beamlets. The computer adjusts the intensities of these beamlets according to the required planning dose objectives. The optimized intensity patterns are then decomposed into a series of deliverable multi leaf collimator (MLC) shapes in the sequencing step. One of the main problems of IMRT, which becomes even more apparent as the complexity of the IMRT plan increases, is the dramatic increase in the number of Monitor Units (MU) required to deliver a fractionated treatment. The difficulty with this increase in MU is its association with increased treatment times and a greater leakage of radiation from the MLCs increasing the total body dose and the risk of secondary cancers in patients. Therefore one attempts to find ways of reducing these MU without compromising plan quality. The design of inverse planning systems where the beam is divided into small beamlets to produce the required intensity map automatically introduces complexity into IMRT treatment planning. Plan complexity is associated with many negative factors such as dosimetric uncertainty and delivery issues A large search space is required necessitating much computing power. However, the limitations of the delivery technology are not taken into consideration when designing the ideal intensity map therefore a further step termed the sequencing step is required to convert the ideal intensity map into a deliverable one. Many approaches have been taken to reduce the complexity. These include setting intensity limits, putting penalties on the cost function and using smoothing filters Direct Aperture optimization (DAO) incorporates the limitations of the delivery technology at the initial design of the intensity map thereby eliminating the sequencing step. It also gives control over the number of segments and hence control over the complexity of the plan although the design of the segments is independent of the person preparing the plan.
Trinity College Dublin ->