Background and purpose: This paper describes the technology and methods involved in a system for automatically checking the position of patients at radiotherapy units. This is proposed for improving the accuracy in the irradiation geometrical set-up, which is a crucial factor in radiotherapy quality control. Materials and methods: The system is based on real-time opto-electronics and close-range photogrammetry and detects multiple passive markers placed on selected patient skin landmarks. Patient alignment and position monitoring is carried out by comparing the current three-dimensional positions of the markers with those of an initial reference position acquired during the simulation procedure and/or the first irradiation session. The system was used to measure the accuracy of conventional laser centering techniques for patient repositioning. Inaccuracies due to breathing and random movements were also taken into account. Professional technicians were asked to reposition three volunteer subjects carefully using a traditional laser centering procedure. Results: The results revealed significant repositioning errors even in highly controlled conditions, affecting particularly body areas relatively far from the skin reference points used for laser alignment. Conclusions: The outcome of the experimental application of this technology confirms its potential as a tool for patient repositioning and automatic detection of any errors caused by breathing or other unpredictable movements. The real-time feedback on the patient's position given by the system provides operators with appropriate visual indices and allows them to take suitable countermeasures in case of significant failures. In addition, the use of the system output for automatic position control is envisaged. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.
- Patient positioning
- Quality control
- Three-dimensional motion analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging