A fast inverse treatment planning strategy facilitating optimized catheter selection in image-guided high-dose-rate interstitial gynecologic brachytherapy:

Christian V. Guthier, Antonio L. Damato, Juergen W. Hesser, Akila N. Viswanathan, Robert A. Cormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Interstitial high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is an important therapeutic strategy for the treatment of locally advanced gynecologic (GYN) cancers. The outcome of this therapy is determined by the quality of dose distribution achieved. This paper focuses on a novel yet simple heuristic for catheter selection for GYN HDR brachytherapy and their comparison against state of the art optimization strategies. The proposed technique is intended to act as a decision-supporting tool to select a favorable needle configuration. Materials: The presented heuristic for catheter optimization is based on a shrinkage-type algorithm (SACO). It is compared against state of the art planning in a retrospective study of 20 patients who previously received image-guided interstitial HDR brachytherapy using a Syed Neblett template. From those plans, template orientation and position are estimated via a rigid registration of the template with the actual catheter trajectories. All potential straight trajectories intersecting the contoured clinical target volume (CTV) are considered for catheter optimization. Retrospectively generated plans and clinical plans are compared with respect to dosimetric performance and optimization time. Results: All plans were generated with one single run of the optimizer lasting 0.6-97.4 s. Compared to manual optimization, SACO yields a statistically significant (P ≤ 0.05) improved target coverage while at the same time fulfilling all dosimetric constraints for organs at risk (OARs). Comparing inverse planning strategies, dosimetric evaluation for SACO and "hybrid inverse planning and optimization" (HIPO), as gold standard, shows no statistically significant difference (P > 0.05). However, SACO provides the potential to reduce the number of used catheters without compromising plan quality. Conclusion: The proposed heuristic for needle selection provides fast catheter selection with optimization times suited for intraoperative treatment planning. Compared to manual optimization, the proposed methodology results in fewer catheters without a clinically significant loss in plan quality. The proposed approach can be used as a decision support tool that guides the user to find the ideal number and configuration of catheters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6117-6127
Number of pages11
JournalMedical physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • brachytherapy
  • catheter optimization
  • dosimetric measure
  • gynecologic HDR
  • inverse treatment planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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