Stability of Intracavitary Applicator Placement for HDR Brachytherapy of Cervix Cancer
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INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND: Cervical cancer is often treated with a combination of external beam radiation therapy and high-dose-rate intracavitary brachytherapy. An intrauterine ring and tandem applicator is used for intracavitary brachytherapy. The dose is prescribed to the high-risk clinical target volume. The goals of this study were to investigate the stability of intracavitary applicator placement during patient transfer and to evaluate the dosimetric impact of displacement. METHODS: Fourteen patients with cervical cancer were analyzed. Three sets of orthogonal fluoroscopic radiographs were obtained in the high-dose-rate suite after the insertion and before treatment: pre-computed tomography (CT) fluoroscopic radiograph with patient in the lithotomy position, pre-CT fluoroscopic radiograph with patient in the legs down position, and post-CT fluoroscopic radiograph with patient in the legs down position. Applicator position after CT was compared with the pre-CT radiographs to determine if the position changed during patient transfer. The displacement was measured in the anterior-posterior, medio-lateral, and superior-inferior directions, as well as the degree of pitch, roll, and yaw. To study the impact of applicator shifts on dose to organs at risk (OARs), the ring and tandem applicator was shifted virtually in the BrachyVision treatment planning system. The OARs studied included the small bowel, sigmoid colon, rectum, and bladder. Five millimeter shifts were made in the superior-inferior, medio-lateral, and anterior-posterior direction. Three degree rotations were made in the pitch, yaw, and roll directions. Applicator shifts were analyzed in only one direction at a time. The dosimetric impact on OARs was evaluated by comparing the original and shifted/rotated plans to dose-volume histogram-based criteria. RESULTS: The average displacements were 1.9 ± 0.5 mm laterally, 3.0 ± 0.6 mm longitudinally, and 9.5 ± 1.5 mm anterior-posterior. The average applicator rotation on the posterior-anterior radiograph was 1.0 ± 0.2° and 2.6 ± 0.6° on the lateral radiograph. Five millimeter anterior-posterior shifts had the greatest effect on dose to OARs. On average, 5 mm anterior shifts had the greatest effect on the small bowel dose, where there was a 13.7% (79.6 cGy) increase in D2cc. Five millimeter anterior shifts also affected bladder dose, with a 36.5% (141.1 cGy) increase in D2cc. Five millimeter POST shifts increased the rectal D2cc by 28.6% (168.7 cGy). Other directional shifts had negligible effects on dose. The largest effect on OAR dose arising from rotations was to the sigmoid colon, when the applicator rotated in the POST pitch direction. As a result, the dose increased by 4.7% (7.6 cGy). All other rotations had minimal impact on OAR doses. CONCLUSION: Patient transfer resulted in applicator shifts and rotations that had a measurable effect on dose to OARs. The displacements were the result of either a direct shift or rotation of the applicator. Additional tracking of these shifts and rotations may clarify the sources of these unwanted motions and suggest possible mitigation strategies.
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