Prism: a new approach to radiotherapy planning software

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1996 Sep 1;36(2):451-61. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(96)00322-7.


Purpose: We describe the capabilities and performance of Prism, an innovative new radiotherapy planning system with unusual features and design. The design and implementation strategies are intended to assure high quality and clinical acceptability. The features include Artificial Intelligence tools and special support for multileaf collimator (MLC) systems. The design provides unusual flexibility of operation and ease of expansion.

Methods and materials: We have implemented Prism, a three-dimensional (3D) radiotherapy treatment-planning system on standard commercial workstations with the widely available X window system. The design and implementation use ideas taken from recent software engineering research, for example, the use of behavioral entity-relationship modeling and the "Mediator Method" instead of ad-hoc programming. The Prism system includes the usual features of a 3D planning system, including Beam's Eye View and the ability to simulate any treatment geometry possible with any standard radiotherapy accelerator. It includes a rule-based expert system for automated generation of the planning target volume as defined in ICRU Report 50. In addition, it provides special support for planning treatments with a multileaf collimator (MLC). We also implemented a Radiotherapy Treatment Planning Tools Foundation for Prism, so that we are able to use software tools form other institutions without any source code modification.

Results: The Prism system has been in clinical operation at the University of Washington since July 1994 and has been installed at several other clinics. The system is run simultaneously by several users, each with their own workstation operating from a common networked database and software. In addition to the dosimetrists, the system is used by radiation oncologists to define tumor and target volumes and by radiation therapists to select treatment setups to load into a computer controlled accelerator.

Conclusions: Experience with the installation and operation has shown the design to be effective as both a clinical and research tool. Integration of software tools has eased the development and significantly enhanced the clinical usability of the system. The design has been shown to be a sound basis for further innovation in radiation treatment planning software and for research in the treatment planning process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Communication Networks / organization & administration
  • Computer Graphics*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted* / economics
  • Software* / economics