Optimization of heart block in the left-sided whole breast radiation treatments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Frontiers in Oncology








Breast cancer; Heart block optimization; Image processing; Intra-fractional motion; Left breast radiotherapy


© 2014 Yue, Goyal, Park, Jones, Xu, Khan, Haffty and Chen. Purpose: Blocks have been used to protect heart from potential radiation damage in left-sided breast treatments. Since cardiac motion pattern may not be fully captured on conventional 3DCT or 4DCT simulation scans, this study was intended to investigate the optimization of the heart block design taking the cardiac motion into consideration. Materials and Methods: Whole breast treatment plans using two opposed tangential fields were designed based on 4DCT simulation images for 10 left-sided breast cancer patients. Using an OBI system equipped to a Varian Linac, beam-eye viewed fluoroscopy images were acquired for each of the treatment beams after patient treatment setup, and the MLC heart blocks were overlaid onto the fluoroscopy images with an in-house software package. A non-rigid image registration and tracking algorithm was utilized to track the cardiac motion on the fluoroscopy images with minimal manual delineation for initialization, and the tracked cardiac motion information was used to optimize the heart block design to minimize the radiation damage to heart while avoiding the over-shielding that may lead to underdosing certain breast tissues. Results: Twenty-three sets of fluoroscopy images were acquired on 23 different days of treatment for the 10 patients. As expected, heart moved under the influences of both respiratory and cardiac motion. It was observed that for 16 out of the 23 treatments, heart moved beyond the planed heart block into treatment fields and MLC had to be adjusted to fully block heart. The adjustment was made for all but one patient. The number of the adjusted MLC leaves ranged from 1 to 16 (mean = 10), and the MLC leaf position adjustment ranged from 2 to 10 mm (mean = 6 mm). The added heart block areas ranged from 3 to 1230 mm2 (mean = 331 mm2). Conclusion: In left-sided whole breast radiation treatments, simulation CT (and 4DCT) based heart block design may not provide adequate heart protection for all the treatments. A fluoroscopy-based method has been developed to adaptively optimize the heart MLC block to achieve optimal heart protection.

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