Three dimensional intensity modulated brachytherapy (IMBT): Dosimetry algorithm and inverse treatment planning

Chengyu Shi, Bingqi Guo, Chih Yao Cheng, Carlos Esquivel, Tony Eng, Niko Papanikolaou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: The feasibility of intensity modulated brachytherapy (IMBT) to improve dose conformity for irregularly shaped targets has been previously investigated by researchers by means of using partially shielded sources. However, partial shielding does not fully explore the potential of IMBT. The goal of this study is to introduce the concept of three dimensional (3D) intensity modulated brachytherapy and solve two fundamental issues regarding the application of 3D IMBT treatment planning: The dose calculation algorithm and the inverse treatment planning method. Methods: A 3D IMBT treatment planning system prototype was developed using the MATLAB platform. This system consists of three major components: (1) A comprehensive IMBT source calibration method with dosimetric inputs from Monte Carlo (EGSnrc) simulations; (2) a "modified TG-43" (mTG-43) dose calculation formalism for IMBT dosimetry; and (3) a physical constraint based inverse IMBT treatment planning platform utilizing a simulated annealing optimization algorithm. The model S700 Axxent electronic brachytherapy source developed by Xoft, Inc. (Fremont, CA), was simulated in this application. Ten intracavitary accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) cases were studied. For each case, an "isotropic plan" with only optimized source dwell time and a fully optimized IMBT plan were generated and compared to the original plan in various dosimetric aspects, such as the plan quality, planning, and delivery time. The issue of the mechanical complexity of the IMBT applicator is not addressed in this study. Results: IMBT approaches showed superior plan quality compared to the original plans and the isotropic plans to different extents in all studied cases. An extremely difficult case with a small breast and a small distance to the ribs and skin, the IMBT plan minimized the high dose volume V200 by 16.1% and 4.8%, respectively, compared to the original and the isotropic plans. The conformity index for the target was increased by 0.13 and 0.04, respectively. The maximum dose to the skin was reduced by 56 and 28 cGy, respectively, per fraction. Also, the maximum dose to the ribs was reduced by 104 and 96 cGy, respectively, per fraction. The mean dose to the ipsilateral and contralateral breasts and lungs were also slightly reduced by the IMBT plan. The limitations of IMBT are the longer planning and delivery time. The IMBT plan took around 2 h to optimize, while the isotropic plan optimization could reach the global minimum within 5 min. The delivery time for the IMBT plan is typically four to six times longer than the corresponding isotropic plan. Conclusions: In this study, a dosimetry method for IMBT sources was proposed and an inverse treatment planning system prototype for IMBT was developed. The improvement of plan quality by 3D IMBT was demonstrated using ten APBI case studies. Faster computers and higher output of the source can further reduce plan optimization and delivery time, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3725-3737
Number of pages13
JournalMedical physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • EGSnrc
  • Monte Carlo
  • electronic brachytherapy (EB)
  • intensity modulated brachytherapy (IMBT)
  • modified TG-43

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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