Influence of robust optimization in intensity-modulated proton therapy with different dose delivery techniques

Wei Liu, Yupeng Li, Xiaoqiang Li, Wenhua Cao, Xiaodong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Purpose: The distal edge tracking (DET) technique in intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) allows for high energy efficiency, fast and simple delivery, and simple inverse treatment planning; however, it is highly sensitive to uncertainties. In this study, the authors explored the application of DET in IMPT (IMPT-DET) and conducted robust optimization of IMPT-DET to see if the planning technique's sensitivity to uncertainties was reduced. They also compared conventional and robust optimization of IMPT-DET with three-dimensional IMPT (IMPT-3D) to gain understanding about how plan robustness is achieved. Methods: They compared the robustness of IMPT-DET and IMPT-3D plans to uncertainties by analyzing plans created for a typical prostate cancer case and a base of skull (BOS) cancer case (using data for patients who had undergone proton therapy at our institution). Spots with the highest and second highest energy layers were chosen so that the Bragg peak would be at the distal edge of the targets in IMPT-DET using 36 equally spaced angle beams; in IMPT-3D, 3 beams with angles chosen by a beam angle optimization algorithm were planned. Dose contributions for a number of range and setup uncertainties were calculated, and a worst-case robust optimization was performed. A robust quantification technique was used to evaluate the plans' sensitivity to uncertainties. Results: With no uncertainties considered, the DET is less robust to uncertainties than is the 3D method but offers better normal tissue protection. With robust optimization to account for range and setup uncertainties, robust optimization can improve the robustness of IMPT plans to uncertainties; however, our findings show the extent of improvement varies. Conclusions: IMPT's sensitivity to uncertainties can be improved by using robust optimization. They found two possible mechanisms that made improvements possible: (1) a localized single-field uniform dose distribution (LSFUD) mechanism, in which the optimization algorithm attempts to produce a single-field uniform dose distribution while minimizing the patching field as much as possible; and (2) perturbed dose distribution, which follows the change in anatomical geometry. Multiple-instance optimization has more knowledge of the influence matrices; this greater knowledge improves IMPT plans' ability to retain robustness despite the presence of uncertainties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3089-3101
Number of pages13
JournalMedical physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • IMPT
  • distal edge tracking
  • robust optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of robust optimization in intensity-modulated proton therapy with different dose delivery techniques'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this