Angular under-sampling effect on VMAT dose calculation: An analysis and a solution strategy

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Abstract

Purpose

Most VMAT algorithms compute the dose on discretized apertures with small angular separations for practical reasons. However, machines deliver the VMAT dose with a continuously moving MLC and gantry and a continuously changing dose rate. The computed dose can deviate from the delivered dose, especially if no, or loose, MLC movement constraints are applied for the VMAT optimization. The goal of this paper is to establish a simplified mathematical model to analyze the discrepancy between the VMAT plan calculation dose and the delivered dose and to provide a reasonable solution for clinical implementation.

Methods

A simplified metric is first introduced to describe the discrepancy between doses computed with discretized apertures and a continuous delivery model. The delivery fluences were formed separately for six different leaf movement scenarios. The formula was then rewritten in a more general form. The correlation between discretized and continuous fluence is summarized using this general form. The Fourier analysis for the impacts from three separate factors – dose kernel width, aperture width, aperture distance – to the dose discrepancy is also presented in order to provide insight into the dose discrepancy caused by under-sampling in the frequency domain. Finally, a weighting-based interpolation (WBI) algorithm, which can improve the aperture interpolation efficiency, is proposed. The associated evaluation methods and criteria for the proposed algorithm are also given.

Results

The comparisons between the WBI algorithm and the equal angular interpolation (EAI) method suggested that the proposed algorithm has a great advantage with regard to aperture number efficiency. To achieve a 90% gamma passing rate using the dose computed with apertures generated with 0.5° EAI, with the initial optimization apertures as the standard for the comparison, the WBI needs only 66% and 54% of the aperture numbers that the EAI method needs for a 2° and a 4° angular separation of the VMAT optimization, respectively. The results also suggested that the weighted dose error index value, Θ, can be used as a stopping criterion for an interpolation algorithm, e.g., WBI or EAI, or as an indicator for sampling level evaluations. The phantom results indicate that the gamma passing rate decreases with increasing depth, from the phantom surface to the iso center, for the plans computed with under-sampled apertures. No obvious variation trends were observed for the plans computed with well-sampled apertures.

Conclusions

The mathematical analysis suggests that the dose discrepancies due to under-sampling are strongly correlated with the aperture width, the distance between apertures, and the width of the dose kernel. The WBI algorithm proves to be an efficient aperture interpolation strategy and is useful for dose computation of VMAT plans.

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