Volumetric and dosimetric assessment by cone-beam computed tomography scans in head and neck radiation therapy: A monitoring in four phases of treatment

Mariella Cozzolino, Alba Fiorentino, Caterina Oliviero, Piernicola Pedicini, Stefania Clemente, Giorgia Califano, Rocchina Caivano, Costanza Chiumento, Vincenzo Fusco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to the anatomical changes frequently occurring during the course of head and neck (H&N) cancer radiotherapy, the dose distribution, which was actually delivered to the patient, might significantly differ from that planned. The aim of this paper is to investigate these volumetric changes and the resulting dosimetric implications on organs at risk (OARs) and clinical target volumes (CTVs) by cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans throughout the treatment. Ten H&N patients, treated by Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy, were analyzed. CTVs and OARs were delineated on four CBCT, acquired at the 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th treatment session, and then compared with the ones at planning CT. The planned beams were applied to each CBCT to recalculate the dose distribution and the corresponding dose volume histograms were compared with those generated on planning CT. To evaluate the HU discrepancies between the conventional CT and CBCT images we used a Catphan® 504, observing a maximum discrepancy of about 30 HU. We evaluated the impact of this HU difference in dose calculation and a not clinically relevant error, within 2.8%, was estimated. No inhomogeneity correction was used. The results showed an increased CTV mean dose (Dmean) of about 3% was found, without significant reduction in volume. Due to the parotids' shrinkage (up to 42%), significant dosimetric increases were observed: ipsilateral gland at 15th CBCT (Dmean by 18%; V30 by 31%); controlateral gland at the 10th CBCT (Dmean by 12.2%; V30 by 18.7%). For the larynx, a significant increase of volume was found at the 20th (15.7%) and 25th CBCT (13.3%) but it complied with dose constraint. The differences observed for the spinal cord and mandible maximum doses were not clinically relevant. In conclusion, the dosimetric analysis on CBCT can help clinicians to monitor treatment progress and to evaluate whether and when a new plan is necessary. The main benefit of replanning could be to preserve the parotids and our data support the hypothesis that the 3rd week of radiotherapy should be a check point for parotids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-335
Number of pages11
JournalTechnology in Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Cone beam CT
  • Dosimetric changes
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Replanning
  • Volume changes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)


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