Analysis and reduction of 3D systematic and random setup errors during the simulation and treatment of lung cancer patients with CT-based external beam radiotherapy dose planning

Hans C.J. De Boer, John R. Van Sörnsen De Koste, Suresh Senan, Andries G. Visser, Ben J.M. Heijmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: To determine the magnitude of the errors made in (a) the setup of patients with lung cancer on the simulator relative to their intended setup with respect to the planned treatment beams and (b) in the setup of these patients on the treatment unit. To investigate how the systematic component of the latter errors can be reduced with an off-line decision protocol for setup corrections. Methods and Materials: For 39 patients with CT planning, digitally-reconstructed radiographs (DRRs) were calculated for anterior-posterior and lateral beams. Retrospectively, the position of the visible anatomy relative to the planned isocenter was compared with the corresponding position on the digitized simulator radiographs using contour match software. The setup accuracy at the treatment unit relative to the simulator setup was measured for 40 patients for at least 5 fractions per patient in 2 orthogonal beams with the aid of an electronic portal imaging device (EPID). Setup corrections were applied, based on an off-line decision protocol, with parameters derived from knowledge of the random setup errors in the studied patient group. Results: The standard deviations (SD) of the simulator setup errors relative to the CT planning setup in the lateral, longitudinal, and anterior-posterior directions were 4.0, 2.8, and 2.5 mm, respectively. The SD of rotations around the anterior-posterior axis was 1.6° and around the left-right axis 1.3°. The setup error at the treatment unit had a small random component in all three directions (1 SD = 2 mm). The systematic components were larger, particularly in the longitudinal direction (1 SD = 3.6 mm), but were reduced with the decision protocol to 1 SD < 2 mm with, on average, 0.6 setup correction per patient. Conclusion: Setup errors at the simulator, which become systematic errors if the simulation defines the reference setup, were comparable to the systematic setup errors at the treatment unit in case no off-line protocol would have been applied. Hence, the omission of a separate simulation step can reduce systematic errors as efficiently as the application of an off-line correction protocol during treatment. The random errors were sufficiently small to make an off-line protocol feasible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-868
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2001

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