Carbon Fiducial Image Guidance Increases the Accuracy of Lumpectomy Cavity Localization in Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Pract Radiat Oncol. 2019 Jan;9(1):e14-e21. doi: 10.1016/j.prro.2018.09.006. Epub 2018 Oct 1.


Purpose: We investigated the feasibility and accuracy of using carbon fiducials to localize the lumpectomy cavity with 2-dimensional kV imaging for early stage breast cancer radiation therapy.

Methods and materials: Carbon fiducials were placed intraoperatively in the periphery of the lumpectomy cavity. Nine patients received whole breast irradiation with a boost, and 2 patients received 3-dimensional conformal partial breast irradiation. A total of 89 fractions were assessed for setup errors relative to a predefined gold standard, cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) match to the lumpectomy cavity, using the following 4 setup methods: (1) Align skin tattoos with lasers; (2) match bone with 2-dimensional-2-dimensional (2D/2D) kV onboard imaging (OBI); (3) match the whole breast with CBCT; and (4) match carbon fiducials with 2D/2D kV OBI. The margin for the planning target volume (PTV) was calculated by 2 standard deviations of the setup errors, and compared among the 4 setup methods. Setup errors for patients treated with free breathing and patients with deep inspiration breath hold were also compared.

Results: The carbon fiducials were sufficiently visible on OBI for matching and introduced minimal artifacts. Of the 4 alignment methods, 2D/2D OBI match to fiducials resulted in the smallest setup errors. The PTV margin was 12 mm for aligning skin tattoos using lasers, 9.2 mm for matching bone on OBI, 6.5 mm for matching breast on CBCT, and 3.5 mm for matching fiducials on 2D/2D OBI. Compared with free breathing, deep inspiration breath hold generally reduced the standard deviations of the setup errors, but further investigation would be needed.

Conclusions: Matching to carbon fiducials increased the localization accuracy to the lumpectomy cavity. This reduces residual setup error and PTV margins, facilitating tissue sparing without diminishing treatment efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Breath Holding
  • Carbon / chemistry*
  • Cone-Beam Computed Tomography
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Fiducial Markers*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Mastectomy, Segmental*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Radiotherapy Setup Errors / prevention & control*
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided / methods*
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods


  • Carbon