Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Medical Biophysics


Stewart Gaede


Stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR) is the standard of care for inoperable early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. However, thoracic tumours are susceptible to respiratory motion and, if unaccounted for, can potentially lead to dosimetric uncertainties. Respiratory gating is one method that limits treatment delivery to portions of the respiratory cycle, but when combined with intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), requires rigorous verification. The goal of this thesis is to optimize respiratory gated IMRT treatment planning and develop image-guided strategies to verify the dose delivery for future early-stage NSCLC patients.

Retrospective treatment plans were generated for various IMRT delivery techniques, including fixed-beam, volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), and helical tomotherapy. VMAT was determined the best technique for optimizing dose conformity and efficiency.

A second treatment planning study that considered patients exhibiting significant tumour motion was conducted. Respiratory ungated and gated VMAT plans were compared. Significant decreases in V20Gy and V50%, predictors for radiation pneumonitis and irreversible fibrosis, respectively, were observed.

The predominant uncertainty of respiratory gating lies in the ability of an external surrogate marker to accurately predict internal target motion. Intrafraction triggered kV imaging was validated in a programmable motion phantom study as a method to determine how correlated the internal and external motion are during ungated and gated VMAT deliveries and to identify potential phase shifts between the motions.

KV projections acquired during gated VMAT delivery were used to reconstruct gated cone-beam CT (CBCT), providing 3D tumour position verification. Image quality and target detectability, in the presence of MV scatter from the treatment beam to the kV detector, was evaluated with various imaging parameters and under real-patient breathing motion conditions. No significant difference in image quality was observed for the CBCT acquisitions with or without the presence of MV scatter.

This thesis explores the benefits of combining respiratory gating with IMRT/VMAT for the treatment of early stage NSCLC with SABR, and evaluates advanced on-board imaging capabilities to develop dose delivery verification protocols. The results of this thesis will provide the tools necessary to confidently implement a respiratory gated radiotherapy program aimed at improving the therapeutic ratio for early-stage NSCLC.