Monte Carlo dose calculations in advanced radiotherapy

Date

2009-09-15T14:52:12Z

Authors

Bush, Karl Kenneth

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Abstract

The remarkable accuracy of Monte Carlo (MC) dose calculation algorithms has led to the widely accepted view that these methods should and will play a central role in the radiotherapy treatment verification and planning of the future. The advantages of using MC clinically are particularly evident for radiation fields passing through inhomogeneities, such as lung and air cavities, and for small fields, including those used in today's advanced intensity modulated radiotherapy techniques. Many investigators have reported significant dosimetric differences between MC and conventional dose calculations in such complex situations, and have demonstrated experimentally the unmatched ability of MC calculations in modeling charged particle disequilibrium. The advantages of using MC dose calculations do come at a cost. The nature of MC dose calculations require a highly detailed, in-depth representation of the physical system (accelerator head geometry/composition, anatomical patient geometry/composition and particle interaction physics) to allow accurate modeling of external beam radiation therapy treatments. To perform such simulations is computationally demanding and has only recently become feasible within mainstream radiotherapy practices. In addition, the output of the accelerator head simulation can be highly sensitive to inaccuracies within a model that may not be known with sufficient detail. The goal of this dissertation is to both improve and advance the implementation of MC dose calculations in modern external beam radiotherapy. To begin, a novel method is proposed to fine-tune the output of an accelerator model to better represent the measured output. In this method an intensity distribution of the electron beam incident on the model is inferred by employing a simulated annealing algorithm. The method allows an investigation of arbitrary electron beam intensity distributions and is not restricted to the commonly assumed Gaussian intensity. In a second component of this dissertation the design, implementation and evaluation of a technique for reducing a latent variance inherent from the recycling of phase space particle tracks in a simulation is presented. In the technique a random azimuthal rotation about the beam's central axis is applied to each recycled particle, achieving a significant reduction of the latent variance. In a third component, the dissertation presents the first MC modeling of Varian's new RapidArc delivery system and a comparison of dose calculations with the Eclipse treatment planning system. A total of four arc plans are compared including an oropharynx patient phantom containing tissue inhomogeneities. Finally, in a step toward introducing MC dose calculation into the planning of treatments such as RapidArc, a technique is presented to feasibly generate and store a large set of MC calculated dose distributions. A novel 3-D dyadic multi-resolution (MR) decomposition algorithm is presented and the compressibility of the dose data using this algorithm is investigated. The presented MC beamlet generation method, in conjunction with the presented 3-D data MR decomposition, represents a viable means to introduce MC dose calculation in the planning and optimization stages of advanced radiotherapy.

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Keywords

Monte Carlo, Medical physics, Radiation therapy, Optimization, Variance reduction, Commissioning

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