Background: The quality of Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) plans is highly dependent on the performance of the optimization algorithm used. Recently new algorithms have become available which are capable of generating VMAT plans for Elekta accelerators. The VMAT algorithm in Pinnacle is named SmartArc and its capability to generate treatment plans for head and neck cancer was tested.
Methods: Twenty-five patients with oropharyngeal or hypopharyngeal carcinoma, previously treated with IMRT by means of Pinnacle and Elekta accelerators, were replanned with single arc VMAT. The VMAT planning objectives were to achieve clinical target coverage and sparing of the organs at risk (OAR). Comparison with the original clinically used IMRT was made by evaluating (1) dose-volume histograms (DVHs) for PTVs, (2) DVHs for OARs, (3) delivery time and monitor units (MU), and (4) treatment accuracy.
Results: Equivalent or superior target coverage and sparing of OARs were achieved with VMAT compared to IMRT. Volumes in the healthy tissues receiving between 17.3 Gy and 49.4 Gy were significantly reduced and the conformity (CI(95%)) of the elective PTV was improved from 1.7 with IMRT to 1.6 with VMAT. Compared to step-and-shoot IMRT, VMAT reduced the number of MUs by 8.5% to 460+/-63 MUs per fraction, and delivered on an Elekta Synergy accelerator, the treatment time was on average reduced by 35% to 241 +/- 16s. In Delta4 measurements of the VMAT treatments, 99.6 +/- 0.5% of the detector points passed a 3 mm and 3% gamma criterion, identical to the results of IMRT.
Conclusions: The target coverages obtained in the IMRT and VMAT plans were found to be very similar. SmartArc generated single arc VMAT plans with equivalent or better target coverage and sparing of OARs compared to IMRT, while both delivery time and MUs were decreased. Very good dose accuracy results were obtained delivering the plans on an Elekta accelerator.
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