Purpose: Three treatment couches, henceforth referred to as the standard, the variable standard and the C-arm couch, each based on a different supporting frame system, were investigated for their suitability for the delivery of a high number of coplanar beams (> or =5) as may be required for intensity-modulated radiation therapy treatments.
Materials and methods: A number of equispaced beam arrangements (five to nine) were examined in combination with two circular target sizes (Phi6 and Phi10 cm) at different locations within an elliptical body on the investigated couches, resulting in 70 different plans per couch. A rule based advisory system determined possible intersections of the beam paths with the supporting frames of the respective treatment couch and suggested a suitable constellation for the supporting frames. In cases of intersection, a beam-couch collision was eliminated by minimal rotation of the beams from the initial equispaced beam arrangement. To investigate the effect of a rotation of the posterior-oblique beams for five, seven and nine initially equispaced beams by an angle of 10 degrees, a prostate plan was generated and compared with equispaced beam arrangement.
Results: Initial beam paths intersected with the standard couch in 63% of the plans, necessitating a rotation of one or two beams. It was necessary to modify the beam angles in 34% of the cases on the variable standard couch to avoid an intersection of the beams with the couch. All the plans would have been delivered satisfactorily on the C-arm couch without a rotation of beams. Simulation studies showed that the dose distribution for a prostate treatment could be affected significantly, but not detrimentally, by the rotation of the two posterior-oblique beam orientations by an angle of 10 degrees.