Intensity-modulated radiation therapy and volumetric-modulated arc therapy for adult craniospinal irradiation-A comparison with traditional techniques

Matthew T. Studenski, Xinglei Shen, Yan Yu, Ying Xiao, Wenyin Shi, Tithi Biswas, Maria Werner-Wasik, Amy S. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Craniospinal irradiation (CSI) poses a challenging planning process because of the complex target volume. Traditional 3D conformal CSI does not spare any critical organs, resulting in toxicity in patients. Here the dosimetric advantages of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) are compared with classic conformal planning in adults for both cranial and spine fields to develop a clinically feasible technique that is both effective and efficient. Ten adult patients treated with CSI were retrospectively identified. For the cranial fields, 5-field IMRT and dual 356° VMAT arcs were compared with opposed lateral 3D conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) fields. For the spine fields, traditional posterior-anterior (PA) PA fields were compared with isocentric 5-field IMRT plans and single 200° VMAT arcs. Two adult patients have been treated using this IMRT technique to date and extensive quality assurance, especially for the junction regions, was performed. For the cranial fields, the IMRT technique had the highest planned target volume (PTV) maximum and was the least efficient, whereas the VMAT technique provided the greatest parotid sparing with better efficiency. 3D-CRT provided the most efficient delivery but with the highest parotid dose. For the spine fields, VMAT provided the best PTV coverage but had the highest mean dose to all organs at risk (OAR). 3D-CRT had the highest PTV and OAR maximum doses but was the most efficient. IMRT provides the greatest OAR sparing but the longest delivery time. For those patients with unresectable disease that can benefit from a higher, definitive dose, 3D-CRT-opposed laterals are the most clinically feasible technique for cranial fields and for spine fields. Although inefficient, the IMRT technique is the most clinically feasible because of the increased mean OAR dose with the VMAT technique. Quality assurance of the beams, especially the junction regions, is essential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-54
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Dosimetry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Craniospinal irradiation
  • Dosimetry
  • IMRT
  • VMAT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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