Purpose: To achieve more translatable preclinical research results, small animal irradiation needs to more closely simulate human radiotherapy. Although the clinical gold standard is intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), the direct translation of this method for small animals is impractical. In this study we describe the treatment planning system for a novel dose modulation device to address this challenge. Methods: Using delineated target and avoidance structures, a rectangular aperture optimization (RAO) problem was formulated to penalize deviations from a desired dose distribution and limit the number of selected rectangular apertures. RAO was used to create IMRT plans with highly concave targets in the mouse brain, and the plan quality was compared to that using a hypothetical miniaturized multileaf collimator (MLC). RAO plans were also created for a realistic application of mouse whole liver irradiation and for a highly complex two-dimensional (2D) dose distribution as a proof-of-principle. Beam commissioning data, including output and off-axis factors and percent depth dose (PDD) curves, were acquired for our small animal irradiation system and incorporated into the treatment planning system. A plan post-processing step was implemented for aperture size-specific dose recalculation and aperture weighting reoptimization. Results: The first RAO test case achieved highly conformal doses to concave targets in the brain, with substantially better dose gradient, conformity, and target dose homogeneity than the hypothetical miniaturized MLC plans. In the second test case, a highly conformal dose to the liver was achieved with significant sparing of the kidneys. RAO also successfully replicated a complex 2D dose distribution with three prescription dose levels. Energy spectra for field sizes 1 to 20 mm were calculated to match the measured PDD curves, with maximum and mean dose deviations of 4.47 ± 0.30% and 1.71 ± 0.18%. The final reoptimization of aperture weightings for the complex RAO test plan was able to reduce the maximum and mean dose deviations between the optimized and recalculated dose distributions from 10.3% to 6.6% and 4.0% to 2.8%, respectively. Conclusions: Using the advanced optimization techniques, complex IMRT plans were achieved using a simple dose modulation device. Beam commissioning data were incorporated into the treatment planning process to more accurately predict the resulting dose distribution. This platform substantially reduces the gap in treatment plan quality between clinical and preclinical radiotherapy, potentially increasing the value and flexibility of small animal studies.
- direct aperture optimization
- intensity-modulated radiation therapy
- preclinical research
- small animal radiotherapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging