Volumetric-modulated arc technique (VMAT) is an efficient form of IMRT delivery. It is advantageous over conventional IMRT in terms of treatment delivery time. This study investigates the relation between the number of segments and plan quality in VMAT optimization for a single modulated arc. Five prostate, five lung, and five head-and-neck (HN) patient plans were studied retrospectively. For each case, four VMAT plans were generated. The plans differed only in the number of control points used in the optimization process. The control points were spaced 2°, 3°, 4°, and 6° apart, respectively. All of the optimization parameters were the same among the four schemes. The 2° spacing plan was used as a reference to which the other three plans were compared. The plan quality was assessed by comparison of dose indices (DIs) and generalized equivalent uniform doses (gEUDs) for targets and critical structures. All optimization schemes generated clinically acceptable plans. The differences between the majority of reference and compared DIs and gEUDs were within 3%. DIs and gEUDs which differed in excess of 3% corresponded to dose levels well below the organ tolerances. The DI and the gEUD differences increased with an increase in plan complexity from prostates to HNs. Optimization with gantry spacing resolution of 4° seems to be a very balanced alternative between plan quality and plan complexity.
PACS number: 87.55.de