Daily ultrasound-based image-guided targeting for radiotherapy of upper abdominal malignancies

Martin Fuss, Bill J. Salter, Sean X. Cavanaugh, Cristina Fuss, Amir Sadeghi, Clifton D. Fuller, Ardow Ameduri, James M. Hevezi, Terence S. Herman, Charles R. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Purpose Development and implementation of a strategy to use a stereotactic ultrasound (US)-based image-guided targeting device (BAT) to align intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) target volumes accurately in the upper abdomen. Because the outlines of such targets may be poorly visualized by US, we present a method that uses adjacent vascular guidance structures as surrogates for the target position. We assessed the potential for improvement of daily repositioning and the feasibility of daily application. Methods and materials A total of 62 patients were treated by sequential tomotherapeutic IMRT between October 2000 and June 2003 for cholangiocarcinoma and gallbladder carcinoma (n = 10), hepatocellular carcinoma (n = 10), liver metastases (n = 11), pancreatic carcinoma (n = 20), neuroblastoma (n = 3), and other abdominal and retroperitoneal tumors (n = 8). The target volumes (TVs) and organs at risk were delineated in contrast-enhanced CT data sets. Additionally, vascular guidance structures in close anatomic relation to the TV, or within the TV, were delineated. Throughout the course of IMRT, US BAT images were acquired during daily treatment positioning. In addition to the anatomic structures typically used for US targeting (e.g., the TV and dose-limiting organs at risk), CT contours of guidance structures were superimposed onto the real-time acquired axial and sagittal US images, and target position adjustments, as indicated by the system, were performed accordingly. We report the BAT-derived distribution of shifts in the three principal room axes compared with a skin-mark-based setup, as well as the time required to perform BAT alignment. The capability of the presented method to improve target alignment was assessed in 15 patients by comparing the organ and fiducial position between the respective treatment simulation CT with a control CT study after US targeting in the CT suite. Results A total of 1,337 BAT alignments were attempted. US images were not useful in 56 setups (4.2%), mainly because of limited visibility due to daily variations in colonic and gastric air. US imaging was facilitated in intrahepatic tumors and asthenic patients. The mean ± SD shift from the skin mark position was 4.9 ± 4.35, 6.0 ± 5.31, and 6.0 ± 6.7 mm in the x, y, and z direction, respectively. The mean magnitude vector of three-dimensional alignment correction was 11.4 ± 7.6 mm. The proportion of daily alignments corrected by a magnitude of >10, >15, and >20 mm was 48.9%, 25.1%, and 12.7%, respectively. The magnitude of shifts in the principal directions, as well as the three-dimensional vector of displacement, was statistically significant (test against the zero hypothesis) at p <0.0001. The guidance structures that were the most valuable for identification of the TV position were the branches of the portal vein, hepatic artery, and dilated bile ducts in intrahepatic lesions and the aorta, celiac trunk, superior mesenteric artery, and extrahepatic aspects of the portal vein system in retroperitoneal and extrahepatic lesions. The mean total setup time was 4.6 min. The correlation of BAT targeting with target setup error assessment in the control CT scans in 15 patients revealed setup error reduction in 14 of 15 alignments. The average setup error reduction, assessed as a reduction in the length of setup error three-dimensional magnitude vector, was 54.4% ± 26.9%, with an observed mean magnitude of residual setup error of 4.6 ± 3.4 mm. The sole worsening of an initial setup was by a magnitude of <2 mm. US targeting resulted in statistically significant improvements in patient setup (p = 0.03). Conclusion Daily US-guided BAT targeting for patients with upper abdominal tumors was feasible in the vast majority of attempted setups. This method of US-based image-guided tumor targeting has been successfully implemented in clinical routine. The observed improved daily repositioning accuracy might allow for individualized reduction of safety margins and optional dose escalation. Compared with the established application of the BAT device for prostate radiotherapy, in which the target can be directly visualized, the TV in the present study was predominantly positioned relative to guidance vascular structures in close anatomic relation. We perceived an enormous potential in improved and individualized patient positioning for fractionated radiotherapy and also for stereotactic extracranial radiotherapy and radiosurgery, especially for tumors of the liver and pancreas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1256
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • IMRT
  • Image-guided targeting
  • Liver cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Patient positioning
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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