Sensitivity of low energy brachytherapy Monte Carlo dose calculations to uncertainties in human tissue composition

Guillaume Landry, Brigitte Reniers, Lars Murrer, Ludy Lutgens, Esther J. Bloemen-van Gurp, Jean-Philippe Pignol, Brian Keller, Luc Beaulieu, Frank Verhaegen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

70 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Purpose: The objective of this work is to assess the sensitivity of Monte Carlo (MC) dose calculations to uncertainties in human tissue composition for a range of low photon energy brachytherapy sources: I-125, Pd-103, (CS)-C-131, and an electronic brachytherapy source (EBS). The low energy photons emitted by these sources make the dosimetry sensitive to variations in tissue atomic number due to the dominance of the photoelectric effect. This work reports dose to a small mass of water in medium D-w,D-m as opposed to dose to a small mass of medium in medium D-m,D-m. Methods: Mean adipose, mammary gland, and breast tissues (as uniform mixture of the aforementioned tissues) are investigated as well as compositions corresponding to one standard deviation from the mean. Prostate mean compositions from three different literature sources are also investigated. Three sets of MC simulations are performed with the GEANT4 code: (1) Dose calculations for idealized TG-43-like spherical geometries using point sources. Radial dose profiles obtained in different media are compared to assess the influence of compositional uncertainties. (2) Dose calculations for four clinical prostate LDR brachytherapy permanent seed implants using I-125 seeds (Model 2301, Best Medical, Springfield, VA). The effect of varying the prostate composition in the planning target volume (PTV) is investigated by comparing PTV D-90 values. (3) Dose calculations for four clinical breast LDR brachytherapy permanent seed implants using Pd-103 seeds (Model 2335, Best Medical). The effects of varying the adipose/gland ratio in the PTV and of varying the elemental composition of adipose and gland within one standard deviation of the assumed mean composition are investigated by comparing PTV D-90 values. For (2) and (3), the influence of using the mass density from CT scans instead of unit mass density is also assessed. Results: Results from simulation (1) show that variations in the mean compositions of tissues affect low energy brachytherapy dosimetry. Dose differences between mean and one standard deviation of the mean composition increasing with distance from the source are observed. It is established that the I-125 and Cs-131 sources are the least sensitive to variations in elemental compositions while Pd-103 is most sensitive. The EBS falls in between and exhibits complex behavior due to significant spectral hardening. Results from simulation (2) show that two prostate compositions are dosimetrically equivalent to water while the third shows D-90 differences of up to 4%. Results from simulation (3) show that breast is more sensitive than prostate with dose variations of up to 30% from water for 70% adipose/30% gland breast. The variability of the breast composition adds a +/- 10% dose variation. Conclusions: Low energy brachytherapy dose distributions in tissue differ from water and are influenced by density, mean tissue composition, and patient-to-patient composition variations. The results support the use of a dose calculation algorithm accounting for heterogeneities such as MC. Since this work shows that variations in mean tissue compositions affect MC dosimetry and result in increased dose uncertainties, the authors conclude that imaging tools providing more accurate estimates of elemental compositions such as dual energy CT would be beneficial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5188-5198
JournalMedical Physics
Volume37
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010

Keywords

  • brachytherapy
  • tissue composition
  • Monte Carlo
  • dose calculation
  • seed implants

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