Investigating the impacts of intrafraction motion on dosimetric outcomes when treating small targets with virtual cones

Cody Church, David Parsons, Alasdair Syme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Intrafraction patient motion is a well-documented phenomenon in radiation therapy. In stereotactic radiosurgery applications in which target sizes can be very small and dose gradients very steep, patient motion can significantly impact the magnitude and positional accuracy of the delivered dose. This work investigates the impact of intrafraction motion on dose metrics for small targets when treated with a virtual cone. Materials and Methods: Monte Carlo simulations were performed to calculate dose kernels for treatment apertures ranging from 1 × 2.5 mm2 to 10 × 10 mm2. The phantom was an 8.2-cm diameter sphere and isotropic voxels had lengths of 0.25 mm. Simulated treatments consisted of 3 arcs: 1 axial arc (360° gantry rotation, couch angle 0°) and 2 oblique arcs (180° gantry rotation, couch angle ±45°). Dose distributions were calculated via superposition of the rotated kernels. Two different collimator orientations were considered to create a virtual cone: (a) each treatment arc was delivered twice, once each with a static collimator angle of ±45°, and (b) each treatment arc was delivered once, with dynamic collimator rotation throughout the arc. Two different intrafraction motion patterns were considered: (a) constant linear motion and (b) sudden, persistent motion. The impact of motion on dose distributions for target sizes ranging from 1 to 10 mm diameter spheres was quantified as a function of the aperture size used to treat the lesions. Results: The impact of motion on both the target and the surrounding tissue was a function of both aperture shape and target size. When a 0.5-mm linear drift along each dimension occurred during treatment, targets ≥5 mm saw less than a 10% decrease in coverage by the prescription dose. Smaller apertures accrued larger penalties with respect to dosimetric hotspots seen in the tissues surrounding the target volume during intrafraction motion. For example, treating a 4-mm-sized target that undergoes 2.60 mm (3D vector) of continuous linear motion, the D5 in the concentric shells that extend 1, 2, and 3 mm from the surface of the target was 39%, 24%, and 14% smaller, respectively when comparing the delivery of a larger aperture (6 × 10 mm2) to a smaller aperture (2 × 5 mm2). Using a static collimator for shaping a virtual cone during treatment minimized the dosimetric impact of motion in the majority of cases. For example, the volume that is covered by 70% or more of the prescription dose is smaller in 60.4% of cases when using the static collimator. The volume covered by 50, and 30% or more of the prescription dose is also smaller when treating with a static collimator, but the clinical significance of this finding is unknown. Conclusions: In this work, the dosimetric trade-offs between aperture size and target size when irradiating with virtual cones has been demonstrated. These findings provide information about the tradeoffs between target coverage and normal tissue sparing that may help inform clinical decision making when treating smaller targets with virtual cones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-71
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Monte Carlo
  • stereotactic radiosurgery
  • virtual cones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigating the impacts of intrafraction motion on dosimetric outcomes when treating small targets with virtual cones'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this