The matching of abutting radiation fields presents a challenging problem in radiation therapy. Due to sharp penumbra of linear accelerator beams, small (1-2 mm) errors in field positioning can lead to large (>30%) hot or cold spots in the abutment region. With head and neck immobilization devices (thermoplastic mask/aquaplast) an average setup error of 3 mm has been reported. Therefore hot or cold spots approaching 50% of the prescription dose may occur along the matchline. Although abutting radiation fields have been investigated for static fields, there is no reported study regarding matching of tomographic IMRT and static fields. Compared to static fields, the matching of tomographic IMRT fields with static fields is more complicated. Since IMRT and static fields are planned on separate treatment planning computers, the dose in the abutment region is not specified. In addition, commonly used techniques for matching fields, such as feathering of junctions, are not practical. We have developed a method that substantially reduces dose inhomogeneity in the abutment region. In this method, a "buffer zone" around the matchline was created and was included as part of the target for both IMRT and static field plans. In both fields, a small dose gradient (≤3%/mm) in the buffer zone was created. In the IMRT plan, the buffer zone was divided into three sections with dose varying from 83% to 25% of prescription dose. The static field dose profile was modified using either a specially designed physical (hard) or a dynamic (soft) wedge. When these modified fields were matched, the combined dose in the abutment region varied by ≤ 10% in the presence of setup errors spanning 4 mm (±2 mm) when the hard wedge was used and 10 mm (±5 mm) with the soft wedge.
- External beam radiotherapy
- Field matching
- Film dosimetry
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging