Purpose: The purpose of this study is to present and evaluate a dose-verification protocol for pulsed dose-rate (PDR) brachytherapy based on in vivo time-resolved (1 s time resolution) fiber-coupled luminescence dosimetry.
Methods: Five cervix cancer patients undergoing PDR brachytherapy (Varian GammaMed Plus with 192Ir) were monitored. The treatments comprised from 10 to 50 pulses (1 pulse/h) delivered by intracavitary/interstitial applicators (tandem-ring systems and/or needles). For each patient, one or two dosimetry probes were placed directly in or close to the tumor region using stainless steel or titanium needles. Each dosimeter probe consisted of a small aluminum oxide crystal attached to an optical fiber cable (1 mm outer diameter) that could guide radioluminescence (RL) and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) from the crystal to special readout instrumentation. Positioning uncertainty and hypothetical dose-delivery errors (interchanged guide tubes or applicator movements from +/-5 to +/-15 mm) were simulated in software in order to assess the ability of the system to detect errors.
Results: For three of the patients, the authors found no significant differences (P>0.01) for comparisons between in vivo measurements and calculated reference values at the level of dose per dwell position, dose per applicator, or total dose per pulse. The standard deviations of the dose per pulse were less than 3%, indicating a stable dose delivery and a highly stable geometry of applicators and dosimeter probes during the treatments. For the two other patients, the authors noted significant deviations for three individual pulses and for one dosimeter probe. These deviations could have been due to applicator movement during the treatment and one incorrectly positioned dosimeter probe, respectively. Computer simulations showed that the likelihood of detecting a pair of interchanged guide tubes increased by a factor of 10 or more for the considered patients when going from integrating to time-resolved dose verification. The likelihood of detecting a +/-15 mm displacement error increased by a factor of 1.5 or more.
Conclusions: In vivo fiber-coupled RL/OSL dosimetry based on detectors placed in standard brachytherapy needles was demonstrated. The time-resolved dose-rate measurements were found to provide a good way to visualize the progression and stability of PDR brachytherapy dose delivery, and time-resolved dose-rate measurements provided an increased sensitivity for detection of dose-delivery errors compared with time-integrated dosimetry.