Purpose/objective: This study evaluates the dosimetric benefits and feasibility of a deep inspiration breath-hold (DIBH) technique in the treatment of lung tumors. The technique has two distinct features--deep inspiration, which reduces lung density, and breath-hold, which immobilizes lung tumors, thereby allowing for reduced margins. Both of these properties can potentially reduce the amount of normal lung tissue in the high-dose region, thus reducing morbidity and improving the possibility of dose escalation.
Methods and materials: Five patients treated for non-small cell lung carcinoma (Stage IIA-IIIB) received computed tomography (CT) scans under 4 respiration conditions: free-breathing, DIBH, shallow inspiration breath-hold, and shallow expiration breath-hold. The free-breathing and DIBH scans were used to generate 3-dimensional conformal treatment plans for comparison, while the shallow inspiration and expiration scans determined the extent of tumor motion under free-breathing conditions. To acquire the breath-hold scans, the patients are brought to reproducible respiration levels using spirometry, and for DIBH, modified slow vital capacity maneuvers. Planning target volumes (PTVs) for free-breathing plans included a margin for setup error (0.75 cm) plus a margin equal to the extent of tumor motion due to respiration (1-2 cm). Planning target volumes for DIBH plans included the same margin for setup error, with a reduced margin for residual uncertainty in tumor position (0.2-0.5 cm) as determined from repeat fluoroscopic movies. To simulate the effects of respiration-gated treatments and estimate the role of target immobilization alone (i.e., without the benefit of reduced lung density), a third plan is generated from the free-breathing scan using a PTV with the same margins as for DIBH plans.
Results: The treatment plan comparison suggests that, on average, the DIBH technique can reduce the volume of lung receiving more than 25 Gy by 30% compared to free-breathing plans, while respiration gating can reduce the volume by 18%. The DIBH maneuver was found to be highly reproducible, with intra breath-hold reproducibility of 1.0 (+/- 0.9) mm and inter breath-hold reproducibility of 2.5 (+/- 1.6) mm, as determined from diaphragm position. Patients were able to perform 10-13 breath-holds in one session, with a comfortable breath-hold duration of 12-16 s.
Conclusion: Patients tolerate DIBH maneuvers well and can perform them in a highly reproducible fashion. Compared to conventional free-breathing treatment, the DIBH technique benefits from reduced margins, as a result of the suppressed target motion, as well as a decreased lung density; both contribute to moving normal lung tissue out of the high-dose region. Because less normal lung tissue is irradiated to high dose, the possibility for dose escalation is significantly improved.