Time evolution of regional CT density changes in normal lung after IMRT for NSCLC

Radiother Oncol. 2013 Oct;109(1):89-94. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2013.08.041. Epub 2013 Sep 20.


Purpose: This study investigates the clinical radiobiology of radiation induced lung disease in terms of regional computed tomography (CT) density changes following intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Methods: A total of 387 follow-up CT scans in 131 NSCLC patients receiving IMRT to a prescribed dose of 60 or 66 Gy in 2 Gy fractions were analyzed. The dose-dependent temporal evolution of the density change was analyzed using a two-component model, a superposition of an early, transient component and a late, persistent component.

Results: The CT density of healthy lung tissue was observed to increase significantly (p<0.0001) for all dose levels after IMRT. The time evolution and the size of the density signal depend on the local delivered dose. The transient component of the density signal was found to peak in the range of 3-4 months, while the density tends to stabilize at times >12 months.

Conclusions: The radiobiology of lung injury may be analyzed in terms of CT density change. The initial transient change in density is consistent with radiation pneumonitis, while the subsequent stabilization of the density is consistent with pulmonary fibrosis.

Keywords: Computed tomography; Deformable registration; Density changes; Fibrosis; Lung cancer; Pneumonitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*