A new optimization algorithm for HDR brachytherapy that improves DVH-based planning: Truncated conditional value-at-risk (TCVaR)

Victor W. Wu, Marina A. Epelman, Kalyan S. Pasupathy, Mustafa Y. Sir, Christopher L. Deufel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To introduce a new optimization algorithm that improves DVH results and is designed for the type of heterogeneous dose distributions that occur in brachytherapy. Methods: The new optimization algorithm is based on a prior mathematical approach that uses mean doses of the DVH metric tails. The prior mean dose approach is referred to as conditional value-at-risk (CVaR), and unfortunately produces noticeably worse DVH metric results than gradient-based approaches. We have improved upon the CVaR approach, using the so-called Truncated CVaR (TCVaR), by excluding the hottest or coldest voxels in the structure from the calculations of the mean dose of the tail. Our approach applies an iterative sequence of convex approximations to improve the selection of the excluded voxels. Data Envelopment Analysis was used to quantify the sensitivity of TCVaR results to parameter choice and to compare the quality of a library of 256 TCVaR plans created for each of prostate, breast, and cervix treatment sites with commercially-generated plans. Results: In terms of traditional DVH metrics, TCVaR outperformed CVaR and the improvements increased monotonically as more iterations were used to identify and exclude the hottest/coldest voxels from the optimization problem. TCVaR also outperformed the Eclipse-Brachyvision TPS, with an improvement in PTVD95% (for equivalent organ-at-risk doses) of up to 5% (prostate), 3% (breast), and 1% (cervix). Conclusions: A novel optimization algorithm for HDR treatment planning produced plans with superior DVH metrics compared with a prior convex optimization algorithm as well as Eclipse-Brachyvision. The algorithm is computationally efficient and has potential applications as a primary optimization algorithm or quality assurance for existing optimization approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA7
JournalBiomedical Physics and Engineering Express
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Convex optimization
  • DVH metrics
  • Data envelopment analysis
  • High-dose rate brachytherapy
  • Multicriteria optimization
  • Value-at-risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Physiology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics


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