Objectives: In real-time portal dosimetry, thresholds are set for several measures of difference between predicted and measured images, and signals larger than those thresholds signify an error. The aim of this work is to investigate the use of an additional composite difference metric (CDM) for earlier detection of errors.
Methods: Portal images were predicted for the volumetric modulated arc therapy plans of six prostate patients. Errors in monitor units, aperture opening, aperture position and path length were deliberately introduced into all 180 segments of the treatment plans, and these plans were delivered to a water-equivalent phantom. Four different metrics, consisting of central axis signal, mean image value and two image difference measures, were used to identify errors, and a CDM was added, consisting of a weighted power sum of the individual metrics. To optimise the weights of the CDM and to evaluate the resulting timeliness of error detection, a leave-pair-out strategy was used. For each combination of four patients, the weights of the CDM were determined by an exhaustive search, and the result was evaluated on the remaining two patients.
Results: The median segment index at which the errors were identified was 87 (range 40-130) when using all of the individual metrics separately. Using a CDM as well as multiple separate metrics reduced this to 73 (35-95). The median weighting factors of the four metrics constituting the composite were (0.15, 0.10, 0.15, 0.00). Due to selection of suitable threshold levels, there was only one false positive result in the six patients.
Conclusion: This study shows that, in conjunction with appropriate error thresholds, use of a CDM is able to identify increased image differences around 20% earlier than the separate measures.
Advances in knowledge: This study shows the value of combining difference metrics to allow earlier detection of errors during real-time portal dosimetry for volumetric modulated arc therapy treatment.