Computer-assisted selection of coplanar beam orientations in intensity-modulated radiation therapy

A. Pugachev, L. Xing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


In intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), the incident beam orientations are often determined by a trial and error search. The conventional beam's-eye view (BEV) tool becomes less helpful in IMRT because it is frequently required that beams go through organs at risk (OARs) in order to achieve a compromise between the dosimetric objectives of the planning target volume (PTV) and the OARs. In this paper, we report a beam's-eye view dosimetrics (BEVD) technique to assist in the selection of beam orientations in IMRT. In our method, each beam portal is divided into a grid of beamlets. A score function is introduced to measure the 'goodness' of each beamlet at a given gantry angle. The score is determined by the maximum PTV dose deliverable by the beamlet without exceeding the tolerance doses of the OARs and normal tissue located in the path of the beamlet. The overall score of the gantry angle is given by a sum of the scores of all beamlets. For a given patient, the score function is evaluated for each possible beam orientation. The directions with the highest scores are then selected as the candidates for beam placement. This procedure is similar to the BEV approach used in conventional radiation therapy, except that the evaluation by a human is replaced by a score function to take into account the intensity modulation. This technique allows one to select beam orientations without the excessive computing overhead of computer optimization of beam orientation. It also provides useful insight into the problem of selection of beam orientation and is especially valuable for complicated cases where the PTV is surrounded by several sensitive structures and where it is difficult to select a set of 'good' beam orientations. Several two-dimensional (2D) model cases were used to test the proposed technique. The plans obtained using the BEVD-selected beam orientations were compared with the plans obtained using equiangular spaced beams. For all the model cases investigated, the use of BEVD-selected beam orientations improved the dose distributions significantly. These examples indicate that the technique has considerable potential for simplifying the IMRT treatment planning process and allows for better utilization of the technical capacity of IMRT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2467-2476
Number of pages10
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 6 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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