Since its inception, doses applied using Gamma Knife Radiosurgery (GKR) have been calculated using a simple TMR algorithm, which assumes the patient's head is of even density, the same as water. This results in a significant approximation of the dose delivered by the Gamma Knife. We investigated how GKR dose calculations varied when using a new convolution algorithm clinically available for GKR planning that takes into account density variations in the head compared with the established calculation algorithm. Fifty-five patients undergoing GKR and harboring 85 lesions were voluntarily and prospectively enrolled into the study. Their clinical treatment plans were created and delivered using TMR 10, but were then recalculated using the density correction algorithm. Dosimetric differences between the planning algorithms were noted. Beam on time (BOT), which is directly proportional to dose, was the main value investigated. Changes of mean and maximum dose to organs at risk (OAR) were also assessed. Phantom studies were performed to investigate the effect of frame and pin materials on dose calculation using the convolution algorithm. Convolution yielded a mean increase in BOT of 7.4% (3.6%-11.6%). However, approximately 1.5% of this amount was due to the head contour being derived from the CT scans, as opposed to measurements using the Skull Scaling Instrument with TMR. Dose to the cochlea calculated with the convolution algorithm was approximately 7% lower than with the TMR 10 algorithm. No significant difference in relative dose distribution was noted and CT artifact typically caused by the stereotactic frame, glue embolization material or different fixation pin materials did not systematically affect convolution isodoses. Nonetheless, substantial error was introduced to the convolution calculation in one target located exactly in the area of major CT artifact caused by a fixation pin. Inhomogeneity correction using the convolution algorithm results in a considerable, but consistent, dose shift compared to the TMR 10 algorithm traditionally used for GKR. A reduction of the prescription dose may be necessary to obtain the same clinical effect with the convolution algorithm. Head shape definition using CT outlining can reduce treatment uncertainty from head shape approximations.
PACS number(s): 87.53.-j; 87.55.D; 87.55.kd