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BACKGROUND: The use of non-ionizing electric fields from low-intensity voltage sources (< 10 V) to control malignant tumor growth is showing increasing potential as a cancer treatment modality. A method of applying these low-intensity electric fields using multiple implanted electrodes within or adjacent to tumor volumes has been termed as intratumoral modulation therapy (IMT).
PURPOSE: This study explores advancements in the previously established IMT optimization algorithm, and the development of a custom treatment planning system for patient-specific IMT. The practicality of the treatment planning system is demonstrated by implementing the full optimization pipeline on a brain phantom with robotic electrode implantation, postoperative imaging, and treatment stimulation.
METHODS: The integrated planning pipeline in 3D Slicer begins with importing and segmenting patient magnetic resonance images (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) images. The segmentation process is manual, followed by a semi-automatic smoothing step that allows the segmented brain and tumor mesh volumes to be smoothed and simplified by applying selected filters. Electrode trajectories are planned manually on the patient MRI or CT by selecting insertion and tip coordinates for a chosen number of electrodes. The electrode tip positions and stimulation parameters (phase shift and voltage) can then be optimized with the custom semi-automatic IMT optimization algorithm where users can select the prescription electric field, voltage amplitude limit, tissue electrical properties, nearby organs at risk, optimization parameters (electrode tip location, individual contact phase shift and voltage), desired field coverage percent, and field conformity optimization. Tables of optimization results are displayed, and the resulting electric field is visualized as a field-map superimposed on the MR or CT image, with 3D renderings of the brain, tumor, and electrodes. Optimized electrode coordinates are transferred to robotic electrode implantation software to enable planning and subsequent implantation of the electrodes at the desired trajectories.
RESULTS: An IMT treatment planning system was developed that incorporates patient-specific MRI or CT, segmentation, volume smoothing, electrode trajectory planning, electrode tip location and stimulation parameter optimization, and results visualization. All previous manual pipeline steps operating on diverse software platforms were coalesced into a single semi-automated 3D Slicer-based user interface. Brain phantom validation of the full system implementation was successful in preoperative planning, robotic electrode implantation, and postoperative treatment planning to adjust stimulation parameters based on actual implant locations. Voltage measurements were obtained in the brain phantom to determine the electrical parameters of the phantom and validate the simulated electric field distribution.
CONCLUSIONS: A custom treatment planning and implantation system for IMT has been developed in this study and validated on a phantom brain model, providing an essential step in advancing IMT technology toward future clinical safety and efficacy investigations.