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Report No. 186 - Report of the Task Group 186 on model-based dose calculation methods in brachytherapy beyond the TG-43 formalism: Current status and recommendations for clinical implementation (2012)

Category: Reports

The charge of Task Group 186 (TG-186) is to provide guidance for early adopters of model-based dose calculation algorithms (MBDCAs) for brachytherapy (BT) dose calculations to ensure practice uniformity. Contrary to external beam radiotherapy, heterogeneity correction algorithms have only recently been made available to the BT community. Yet, BT dose calculation accuracy is highly dependent on scatter conditions and photoelectric effect cross-sections relative to water. In specific situations, differences between the current water-based BT dose calculation formalism (TG-43) and MBDCAs can lead to differences in calculated doses exceeding a factor of 10. MBDCAs raise three major issues that are not addressed by current guidance documents: (1) MBDCA calculated doses are sensitive to the dose specification medium, resulting in energy-dependent differences between dose calculated to water in a homogeneous water geometry (TG-43), dose calculated to the local medium in the heterogeneous medium, and the intermediate scenario of dose calculated to a small volume of water in the heterogeneous medium. (2) MBDCA doses are sensitive to voxel-by-voxel interaction cross sections. Neither conventional single-energy CT nor ICRU/ICRP tissue composi- tion compilations provide useful guidance for the task of assigning interaction cross sections to each voxel. (3) Since each patient-source-applicator combination is unique, having reference data for each possible combination to benchmark MBDCAs is an impractical strategy. Hence, a new commission- ing process is required. TG-186 addresses in detail the above issues through the literature review and provides explicit recommendations based on the current state of knowledge. TG-43-based dose prescription and dose calculation remain in effect, with MBDCA dose reporting performed in parallel when available. In using MBDCAs, it is recommended that the radiation transport should be performed in the heterogeneous medium and, at minimum, the dose to the local medium be reported along with the TG-43 calculated doses. Assignments of voxel-by-voxel cross sections represent a particular challenge. Electron density information is readily extracted from CT imaging, but cannot be used to distinguish between different materials having the same density. Therefore, a recommen- dation is made to use a number of standardized materials to maintain uniformity across institutions. Sensitivity analysis shows that this recommendation offers increased accuracy over TG-43. MBDCA commissioning will share commonalities with current TG-43-based systems, but in addition there will be algorithm-specific tasks. Two levels of commissioning are recommended: reproducing TG-43 dose parameters and testing the advanced capabilities of MBDCAs. For validation of heterogeneity and scatter conditions, MBDCAs should mimic the 3D dose distributions from reference virtual ge- ometries. Potential changes in BT dose prescriptions and MBDCA limitations are discussed. When data required for full MBDCA implementation are insufficient, interim recommendations are made and potential areas of research are identified. Application of TG-186 guidance should retain practice uniformity in transitioning from the TG-43 to the MBDCA approach.

Medical Physics, 39, 6208-6236 (2012)
ISBN: 978-1-936366-20-0

Keywords: Brachytherapy, Inhomogeneity Calculation, Monte Carlo, TG-43, Treatment Planning
Brachytherapy Subcommittee Task Group #186

Luc Beaulieu, ┼sa Carlsson Tedgren, Jean-Franšois Carrier, Stephen D. Davis, Firas Mourtada, Mark J. Rivard, Rowan M. Thomson, Frank Verhaegen, Todd A. Wareing, Jeffrey F. Williamson

Committee Responsible: Brachytherapy Subcommittee
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