Development of automated image analysis tools for verification of radiotherapy field accuracy with an electronic portal imaging device

Lei Dong, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The successful management of cancer with radiation relies on the accurate deposition of a prescribed dose to a prescribed anatomical volume within the patient. Treatment set-up errors are inevitable because the alignment of field shaping devices with the patient must be repeated daily up to eighty times during the course of a fractionated radiotherapy treatment. With the invention of electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs), patient's portal images can be visualized daily in real-time after only a small fraction of the radiation dose has been delivered to each treatment field. However, the accuracy of human visual evaluation of low-contrast portal images has been found to be inadequate. The goal of this research is to develop automated image analysis tools to detect both treatment field shape errors and patient anatomy placement errors with an EPID. A moments method has been developed to align treatment field images to compensate for lack of repositioning precision of the image detector. A figure of merit has also been established to verify the shape and rotation of the treatment fields. Following proper alignment of treatment field boundaries, a cross-correlation method has been developed to detect shifts of the patient's anatomy relative to the treatment field boundary. Phantom studies showed that the moments method aligned the radiation fields to within 0.5mm of translation and 0.5$\sp\circ$ of rotation and that the cross-correlation method aligned anatomical structures inside the radiation field to within 1 mm of translation and 1$\sp\circ$ of rotation. A new procedure of generating and using digitally reconstructed radiographs (DRRs) at megavoltage energies as reference images was also investigated. The procedure allowed a direct comparison between a designed treatment portal and the actual patient setup positions detected by an EPID. Phantom studies confirmed the feasibility of the methodology. Both the moments method and the cross-correlation technique were implemented within an experimental radiotherapy picture archival and communication system (RT-PACS) and were used clinically to evaluate the setup variability of two groups of cancer patients treated with and without an alpha-cradle immobilization aid. The tools developed in this project have proven to be very effective and have played an important role in detecting patient alignment errors and field-shape errors in treatment fields formed by a multileaf collimator (MLC).

Subject Area

Biomedical research|Biophysics|Radiation|Radiology

Recommended Citation

Dong, Lei, "Development of automated image analysis tools for verification of radiotherapy field accuracy with an electronic portal imaging device" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9532530.