In modern radiotherapy, verification of the treatment to ensure the target receives the prescribed dose and normal tissues are optimally spared has become essential. Several forms of image guidance are available for this purpose. The most commonly used forms of image guidance are based on kilovolt or megavolt x-ray imaging. Image guidance can also be performed with non-harmful ultrasound (US) waves. This increasingly used technique has the potential to offer both anatomical and functional information. This review presents an overview of the historical and current use of two-dimensional and three-dimensional US imaging for treatment verification in radiotherapy. The US technology and the implementation in the radiotherapy workflow are described. The use of US guidance in the treatment planning process is discussed. The role of US technology in inter-fraction motion monitoring and management is explained, and clinical studies of applications in areas such as the pelvis, abdomen and breast are reviewed. A companion review paper (O'Shea et al 2015 Phys. Med. Biol. submitted) will extensively discuss the use of US imaging for intra-fraction motion quantification and novel applications of US technology to RT.
- image guidance