Actual target coverage after setup verification using surgical clips compared with external skin markers in postoperative breast cancer radiation therapy

Anke van der Salm*, Lars Murrer, Inge Steenbakkers, Ruud Houben, Liesbeth J. Boersma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: After changing from offline setup verification to online setup verification using external skin markers in breast cancer patients, we noticed an increase in localized acute skin toxicity beneath the markers. Also, in vivo 3-dimensional dose measurements showed deviations between the delivered and the planned dose distributions; therefore, we investigated the accuracy of setup verification using surgical clips in the tumor bed, with a focus on target coverage of whole breast and tumor bed.

Methods and materials: Orthogonal kilovoltage images were acquired before every fraction in 35 breast cancer patients, deriving an online 3-dimensional setup error by matching on external skin markers. In retrospect, a rematch was performed using surgical clips. For 155 fractions (ie, 5-6 fractions/patient), a cone beam computed tomography (CT) scan was available. Analysis concerned: (1) visibility of the clips, (2) migration of the clips, (3) comparison of setup errors according to both match methods, and (4) comparison of target coverage by recalculating the dose on the online setup-corrected cone beam CT scan with the patient setup according to both match methods. External validation of the surgical clip-based online setup verification was performed in 23 patients by analyzing kilovoltage images of 100 fractions, obtained after treatment.

Results: All types of surgical clips could be visualized. The clip to center-of-mass distance decreased on average by 2 mm (standard deviation, 1) over the course of treatment. Setup differences between match methods were on average <0.5 mm in all directions. The reconstructed dose distributions showed standard deviations of volumes receiving 95% or 107% of prescribed dose and mean dose of the breast and boost planning target volume were similar for the planning CT and the cone beam CTs, for both match procedures. An external validation in 23 patients showed reassuring setup errors <2 mm.

Conclusions: Online setup verification using surgical clips results in comparable setup corrections and target volume coverage as verification using skin markers. By omitting skin markers acute skin toxicity beneath the markers is prevented. (C) 2017 American Society for Radiation Oncology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E369-E376
Number of pages8
JournalPractical radiation oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017




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