A non-voxel-based broad-beam (NVBB) framework for IMRT treatment planning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


We present a novel framework that enables very large scale intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) planning in limited computation resources with improvements in cost, plan quality and planning throughput. Current IMRT optimization uses a voxel-based beamlet superposition (VBS) framework that requires pre-calculation and storage of a large amount of beamlet data, resulting in large temporal and spatial complexity. We developed a non-voxelbased broad-beam (NVBB) framework for IMRT capable of direct treatment parameter optimization (DTPO). In this framework, both objective function and derivative are evaluated based on the continuous viewpoint, abandoning 'voxel' and 'beamlet' representations. Thus pre-calculation and storage of beamlets are no longer needed. The NVBB framework has linear complexities (O(N3)) in both space and time. The low memory, full computation and data parallelization nature of the framework render its efficient implementation on the graphic processing unit (GPU). We implemented the NVBB framework and incorporated it with the TomoTherapy treatment planning system (TPS). The new TPS runs on a single workstation with one GPU card (NVBB-GPU). Extensive verification/validation tests were performed in house and via third parties. Benchmarks on dose accuracy, plan quality and throughput were compared with the commercial TomoTherapy TPS that is based on the VBS framework and uses a computer cluster with 14 nodes (VBS-cluster). For all tests, the dose accuracy of these two TPSs is comparable (within 1%). Plan qualities were comparable with no clinically significant difference for most cases except that superior target uniformity was seen in the NVBBGPU for some cases. However, the planning time using the NVBB-GPU was reduced many folds over the VBS-cluster. In conclusion, we developed a novel NVBB framework for IMRT optimization. The continuous viewpoint and DTPO nature of the algorithm eliminate the need for beamlets and lead to better plan quality. The computation parallelization on a GPU instead of a computer cluster significantly reduces hardware and service costs. Compared with using the current VBS framework on a computer cluster, the planning time is significantly reduced using the NVBB framework on a single workstation with a GPU card.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7175-7210
Number of pages36
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 7 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'A non-voxel-based broad-beam (NVBB) framework for IMRT treatment planning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this