Irregular breathing during 4DCT scanning of lung cancer patients: is the midventilation approach robust?

Phys Med. 2014 Feb;30(1):69-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmp.2013.03.003. Epub 2013 Apr 13.


Background: With 4DCT the risk of introducing positional systematic errors in lung cancer radiotherapy can be minimised. A common approach is to plan on the phase bin of the 4DCT best representing the tumour's time-weighted mean position also called the midventilation scan. However breathing irregularities can introduce uncertainties and potentially misrepresent both the tumour trajectory and the determination of the midventilation phase. In this study we evaluated the robustness of the midventilation approach in the presence of irregular breathing patterns.

Methods: A LEGO Mindstorms(®) phantom with compact balls simulating lung tumours was constructed. The breathing curves loaded in the phantom were either acquired from a human volunteer or constructed with various magnitudes (ranging from 12 to 29 mm) as well as various irregularities of motion pattern. Repeated 4DCT scans were performed while tumour trajectories were recorded with two motion tracking systems.

Results: The time-weighted mean tumour position is accurately represented in 4DCT scans, even for irregular breathing patterns: the position presentation in the midventilation scan was always within in one standard deviation of the global position presentation (3 mm and 2 mm for regular and irregular breathing patterns, respectively). The displacement representation tended to be underestimated in 4DCT scans.

Conclusion: The midventilation approach is robust even in the presence of breathing irregularity. The representation of the tumour trajectory in 4DCT scans is affected by breathing irregularity and the extent of tumour motion can be underestimated, which will affect the calculation of patient-individualised margins based on the 4DCT scan.

Keywords: 4DCT; Breathing patterns; Midventilation.

MeSH terms

  • Four-Dimensional Computed Tomography / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Movement
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Pulmonary Ventilation*
  • Respiration*