Background and purpose: Analyses of permanent brachytherapy seed implants of the prostate have demonstrated that the use of a preplan may lead to a considerable decrease of dosimetric implant quality. The authors aimed to determine whether the same drawbacks of preplanning also apply to high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy.
Patients and methods: 15 patients who underwent two separate HDR brachytherapy implants in addition to external-beam radiation therapy for advanced prostate cancer were analyzed. A pretherapeutic transrectal ultrasound was performed in all patients to generate a preplan for the first brachytherapy implant. For the second brachytherapy, a subset of patients were treated by preplans based on the ultrasound from the first brachytherapy implant. Preplans were compared with the respective postplans assessing the following parameters: coverage index, minimum target dose, homogeneity index, and dose exposure of organs at risk. The prostate geometries (volume, width, height, length) were compared as well.
Results: At the first brachytherapy, the matching between the preplan and actual implant geometry was sufficient in 47% of the patients, and the preplan could be applied. The dosimetric implant quality decreased considerably: the mean coverage differed by -0.11, the mean minimum target dose by -0.15, the mean homogeneity index by -0.09. The exposure of organs at risk was not substantially altered. At the second brachytherapy, all patients could be treated by the preplan; the differences between the implant quality parameters were less pronounced. The changes of prostate geometry between preplans and postplans were considerable, the differences in volume ranging from -8.0 to 13.8 cm(3) and in dimensions (width, height, length) from -1.1 to 1.0 cm.
Conclusion: Preplanning in HDR brachytherapy of the prostate is associated with a substantial decrease of dosimetric implant quality, when the preplan is based on a pretherapeutic ultrasound. The implant quality is less impaired in subsequent implants of fractionated brachytherapy.