Toward truly optimal IMRT dose distribution: Inverse planning with voxel-specific penalty

Pavel Lougovski, Jordan LeNoach, Lei Zhu, Yunzhi Ma, Yair Censor, Lei Xing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To establish an inverse planning framework with adjustable voxel penalty for more conformal IMRT dose distribution as well as improved interactive controllability over the regional dose distribution of the resultant plan. Materials and Method: In the proposed coarse-to-fine planning scheme, a conventional inverse planning with organ specific parameters is first performed. The voxel penalty scheme is then "switched on" by allowing the prescription dose to change on an individual voxel scale according to the deviation of the actual voxel dose from the ideally desired dose. The rationale here is intuitive: when the dose at a voxel does not meet its ideal dose, it simply implies that this voxel is not competitive enough when compared with the ones that have met their planning goal. In this case, increasing the penalty of the voxel by varying the prescription can boost its competitiveness and thus improve its dose. After the prescription adjustment, the plan is re-optimized. The dose adjustment/ re-optimization procedure is repeated until the resultant dose distribution cannot be improved anymore. The prescription adjustment on a finer scale can be accomplished either automatically or manually. In the latter case, the regions/voxels where a dose improvement is needed are selected visually, unlike in the automatic case where the selection is done purely based on the difference of the actual dose at a given voxel and its ideal prescription. The performance of the proposed method is evaluated using a head and neck and a prostate case. Results: An inverse planning framework with the voxel-specific penalty is established. By adjusting voxel prescriptions iteratively to boost the region where large mismatch between the actual calculated and desired doses occurs, substantial improvements can be achieved in the final dose distribution. The proposed method is applied to a head and neck case and a prostate case. For the former case, a significant reduction in the maximum dose to the brainstem is achieved while the PTV dose coverage is greatly improved. The doses to other organs at risk are also reduced, ranging from 10% to 30%. For the prostate case, the use of the voxel penalty scheme also results in vast improvements to the final dose distribution. The PTV experiences improved dose uniformity and the mean dose to the rectum and bladder is reduced by as much as 15%. Conclusion: Introduction of the spatially non-uniform and adjustable prescription provides room for further improvements of currently achievable dose distributions and equips the planner with an effective tool to modify IMRT dose distributions interactively. The technique is easily implementable in any existing inverse planning platform, which should facilitate clinical IMRT planning process and, in future, off-line/on-line adaptive IMRT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-636
Number of pages8
JournalTechnology in Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Adaptive radiation therapy
  • Dose optimization
  • IMRT
  • Inverse planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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