Quantitative assessment of anatomical change using a virtual proton depth radiograph for adaptive head and neck proton therapy

Peng Wang, Lingshu Yin, Yawei Zhang, Maura Kirk, Gang Song, Peter H. Ahn, Alexander Lin, James Gee, Derek Dolney, Timothy D. Solberg, Richard Maughan, James McDonough, Boon Keng Kevin Teo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The aim of this work is to demonstrate the feasibility of using water-equivalent thickness (WET) and virtual proton depth radiographs (PDRs) of intensity corrected cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) to detect anatomical change and patient setup error to trigger adaptive head and neck proton therapy. The planning CT (pCT) and linear accelerator (linac) equipped CBCTs acquired weekly during treatment of a head and neck patient were used in this study. Deformable image registration (DIR) was used to register each CBCT with the pCT and map Hounsfield units (HUs) from the planning CT (pCT) onto the daily CBCT. The deformed pCT is referred as the corrected CBCT (cCBCT). Two dimensional virtual lateral PDRs were generated using a ray-tracing technique to project the cumulative WET from a virtual source through the cCBCT and the pCT onto a virtual plane. The PDRs were used to identify anatomic regions with large variations in the proton range between the cCBCT and pCT using a threshold of 3 mm relative difference of WET and 3 mm search radius criteria. The relationship between PDR differences and dose distribution is established. Due to weight change and tumor response during treatment, large variations in WETs were observed in the relative PDRs which corresponded spatially with an increase in the number of failing points within the GTV, especially in the pharynx area. Failing points were also evident near the posterior neck due to setup variations. Differences in PDRs correlated spatially to differences in the distal dose distribution in the beam's eye view. Virtual PDRs generated from volumetric data, such as pCTs or CBCTs, are potentially a useful quantitative tool in proton therapy. PDRs and WET analysis may be used to detect anatomical change from baseline during treatment and trigger further analysis in adaptive proton therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-440
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Adaptive radiotherapy
  • Proton therapy
  • Treatment planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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