The intra-fractional movement of the prostate constitutes a hindrance for the reduction of the planning target volume margin for prostate cancer patients. Monitoring the movement of the prostate during treatment is a promising but in most centres not feasible solution. However, the projection images of the pre-treatment cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) provide information about the motion of the target immediately preceding the treatment. This motion information can be extracted from any standard CBCT scan which is available in many institutions. In this study we measure the motion of the prostate during the pre-treatment CBCT and investigate whether this motion is correlated with the intra-fractional movement of the prostate.
Material and methods: Pre- and post-treatment CBCT scans were made during a number of the fractions (average 11 range 8-12) for 13 prostate cancer patients during the radiation treatment course. The displacement of the post-treatment CBCT scans relative to the pre-treatment position was used to assess the intra-fractional motion. Automated image analysis was used to track the 2D position of radiopaque markers in the projection images of the scans. The most probable 3D trajectory of the markers during the CBCT scan was estimated based on a probability density function which was established for each individual scan.
Results: The accuracy of the tracking algorithm was found satisfactory and the motion of the markers during the CBCT scans was successfully extracted from the projection images. This motion was generally small and uncorrelated with the subsequent intra-fractional movement of the prostate. The correlation coefficients were 20.05, 0.07, and 20.05 in the LR, AP, and CC direction, respectively.
Conclusion: It is tempting to exploit the pre-treatment CBCT to predict the intra-fractional movement of the prostate but, unfortunately, we have found no correlation between the intra-fractional movement and the motion of the prostate immediately prior to treatment.