Dose-volume histograms for bladder and rectum

Joseph Y. Ting, Xiaodong Wu, Jeffrey A. Fiedler, Chingchong Yang, Marcia L. Watzich, Arnold Markoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: A careful examination of the foundation upon which the concept of the Dose-Volume Histogram (DVH) is built, and the implications of this set of parameters on the clinical application and interpretation of the DVH concept has not been conducted since the introduction of DVHs as a tool for the quantitative evaluation of treatment plans. The purpose of the work presented herein is to illustrate problems with current methods of implementing and interpreting DVHs when applied to hollow anatomic structures such as the bladder and rectum. Methods and Materials: A typical treatment plan for external beam irradiation of a patient with prostate cancer was chosen to provide a data set from which DVH curves for both the bladder and rectum were calculated. The two organs share the property of being shells with contents that are of no clinical importance. DVHs for both organs were computed using a solid model and using a shell model. Typical treatment plans for prostate cancer were used to generate DVH curves for both models. The Normal Tissue Complication Probability (NTCP) for these organs is discussed in this context. Results: For an eight-field conformal treatment plan of the prostate, a bladder DVH curve generated using the shell model is higher than the corresponding curve generated using the solid model. The shell model also has a higher NTCP. A six-field conformal treatment plan also results in a higher DVH curve for the shell model. A treatment plan consisting of bilateral 120-degree arcs, results in a higher DVH curve for the shell model, as well as a higher NTCP. Conclusion: The DVH concept currently used in evaluation of treatment plans is problematic because current practices of defining exactly what constitutes 'bladder' and 'rectum.' Commonly used methods of tracing the bladder and rectum imply use of a solid structure model for DVHs. In reality, these organs are shells and the critical structure associated with NTCP is obviously and indisputably the shell, as opposed to its contents. Treatment planning algorithms for DVH computation should thus be modified to utilize the shell model for these organs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1105-1111
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 15 1997


  • Dose volume histograms
  • Normal tissue complication probabilities
  • Prostate cancer
  • Treatment planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


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