A new approach to integrate GPU-based Monte Carlo simulation into inverse treatment plan optimization for proton therapy

Yongbao Li, Zhen Tian, Ting Song, Zhaoxia Wu, Yaqiang Liu, Steve Jiang, Xun Jia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Monte Carlo (MC)-based spot dose calculation is highly desired for inverse treatment planning in proton therapy because of its accuracy. Recent studies on biological optimization have also indicated the use of MC methods to compute relevant quantities of interest, e.g. linear energy transfer. Although GPU-based MC engines have been developed to address inverse optimization problems, their efficiency still needs to be improved. Also, the use of a large number of GPUs in MC calculation is not favorable for clinical applications. The previously proposed adaptive particle sampling (APS) method can improve the efficiency of MC-based inverse optimization by using the computationally expensive MC simulation more effectively. This method is more efficient than the conventional approach that performs spot dose calculation and optimization in two sequential steps. In this paper, we propose a computational library to perform MC-based spot dose calculation on GPU with the APS scheme. The implemented APS method performs a non-uniform sampling of the particles from pencil beam spots during the optimization process, favoring those from the high intensity spots. The library also conducts two computationally intensive matrix-vector operations frequently used when solving an optimization problem. This library design allows a streamlined integration of the MC-based spot dose calculation into an existing proton therapy inverse planning process. We tested the developed library in a typical inverse optimization system with four patient cases. The library achieved the targeted functions by supporting inverse planning in various proton therapy schemes, e.g. single field uniform dose, 3D intensity modulated proton therapy, and distal edge tracking. The efficiency was 41.6 15.3% higher than the use of a GPU-based MC package in a conventional calculation scheme. The total computation time ranged between 2 and 50 min on a single GPU card depending on the problem size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-305
Number of pages17
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2017


  • Monte Carlo
  • inverse optimization
  • proton therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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