Real-time tumor tracking with preprogrammed dynamic multileaf-collimator motion and adaptive dose-rate regulation

Byong Yong Yi, Sarah Han-Oh, Fritz Lerma, Barry L. Berman, Cedric Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors have developed a new method for real-time tumor tracking with dynamic multileaf-collimator (MLC) motion under condition of free breathing. Unlike other previously proposed tumor-tracking methods, their new method uses a preprogrammed dynamic MLC sequence in combination with real-time dose-rate control. This new scheme circumvents the technical challenge in MLC-based tumor tracking of having to control the MLC motion in real time, based on real-time detected tumor motion. With their new method, the movement of the tumor, as a function of breathing phase, amplitude, or tidal volume, is reflected in the preprogrammed MLC sequence. The irregularity of breathing during treatment is handled by real-time regulation of the machine dose rate, which effectively speeds up or slows down the delivery of radiation as needed. This method is based on the fact that all of the parameters in dynamic radiation delivery, including MLC motion, are enslaved to the cumulative dose, which, in turn, can be accelerated or decelerated by varying the dose rate. Because commercially available MLC systems do not allow the MLC delivery sequence to be modified in real time based on the patient's breathing signal, previously proposed tumor-tracking techniques using a MLC cannot be readily implemented in the clinic today. By using a preprogrammed MLC sequence to handle the required motion, the task for real-time control is greatly simplified. With their new scheme, which they call dose-rate-regulated tracking (DRRT), it is possible to use existing linear accelerators that have dynamic MLC capability to achieve real-time tumor tracking, provided that the beam dose rate can be controlled externally. Tracking-error evaluation for 13 patients out of 14 resulted in a tracking error of less than 1 mm (1σ), if the effect of the response time of the treatment machine on the dose-rate modulation can be neglected. Film measurements on a moving phantom with variable breathing patterns and DRRT delivery showed that 97% of the measurement points have gamma values less than 1 (for 3% and 2-mm criteria), while non-DRRT delivery showed only 87%. This study shows that real-time tracking is feasible with DRRT even when the patient breathing frequency is irregular. Effects of the variation of breathing amplitude and of base line drift on the tracking error with DRRT are discussed; pending further study, a criterion is suggested for patient selection in the application of this new technique in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3955-3962
Number of pages8
JournalMedical physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • MLC
  • Organ motion
  • Real-time tumor tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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