Automatic feathering of split fields for step-and-shoot intensity modulated radiation therapy

Nesrin Dogan, Leonid B. Leybovich, Anil Sethi, Bahman Emani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Due to leaf travel range limitations of the Varian Dynamic Multileaf Collimator (DMLC) system, an IMRT field width exceeding 14.5 cm is split into two or more adjacent abutting sub-fields. The abutting sub-fields are then delivered as separate treatment fields. The accuracy of the delivery is very sensitive to multileaf positioning accuracy. The uncertainties in leaf and carriage positions cause errors in the delivered dose (e.g., hot or cold spots) along the match line of abutting sub-fields. The dose errors are proportional to the penumbra slope at the edge of each sub-field. To alleviate this problem, we developed techniques that feather the split line of IMRT fields. Feathering of the split line was achieved by dividing IMRT fields into several sub-groups with different split line positions. A Varian 21EX accelerator with an 80-leaf DLMC was used for IMRT delivery. Cylindrical targets with varying widths (> 14.5 cm) were created to study the split line positions. Seven coplanar 6 MV fields were selected for planning using the NOMOS-CORVUS™ system. The isocentre of the fields was positioned at the centre of the target volume. Verification was done in a 30 × 30 × 30 cm3 polystyrene phantom using film dosimetry. We investigated two techniques to move the split line from its original position or cause feathering of them: (1) varying the isocentre position along the target width and (2) introduction of a 'pseudo target' outside of the patient (phantom). The position of the 'pseudo target' was determined by analysing the divergence of IMRT fields. For target widths of 14-28 cm, IMRT fields were automatically split into two sub-fields, and the split line was positioned along the centre of the target by CORVUS. Measured dose distributions demonstrated that the dose to the critical structure was 10% higher than planned when the split line crossed through the centre of the target. Both methods of modifying the split line positions resulted in maximum shifts of ∼ 1 cm from the original. Therefore, it was concluded that the feathering of the split line may be used for reducing the magnitude of hot/cold spots. This method was tested for an oesophageal cancer case. For a six-field arrangement, it was possible to create three field sub-groups with different split lines. The feathering technique developed in this work does not require any modifications of the radiation fields during the course of treatment because only one treatment plan is used to deliver the entire course of radiation treatments. In addition, this method may be more biologically effective because the split line feathering is achieved for every fraction of radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1133-1140
Number of pages8
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 7 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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