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World J Radiol. Oct 28, 2013; 5(10): 352-355
Published online Oct 28, 2013. doi: 10.4329/wjr.v5.i10.352
Real-time dosimetry in external beam radiation therapy
Ramachandran Prabhakar
Ramachandran Prabhakar, Department of Physical Sciences, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Victoria 8006, Australia
Author contributions: Prabhakar R solely contributed to this work.
Correspondence to: Ramachandran Prabhakar, PhD, Department of Physical Sciences, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Locked Bag 1, A’ Beckett Street, Victoria 8006, Australia. prabhakar_smr@hotmail.com
Telephone: +61-3-54549234 Fax: +61-3-54549289
Received: June 28, 2013
Revised: September 9, 2013
Accepted: October 11, 2013
Published online: October 28, 2013

With growing complexity in radiotherapy treatment delivery, it has become mandatory to check each and every treatment plan before implementing clinically. This process is currently administered by an independent secondary check of all treatment parameters and as a pre-treatment quality assurance (QA) check for intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric modulated arc therapy treatment plans. Although pre-treatment IMRT QA is aimed to ensure the correct dose is delivered to the patient, it does not necessarily predict the clinically relevant patient dose errors. During radiotherapy, treatment uncertainties can affect tumor control and may increase complications to surrounding normal tissues. To combat this, image guided radiotherapy is employed to help ensure the plan conditions are mimicked on the treatment machine. However, it does not provide information on actual delivered dose to the tumor volume. Knowledge of actual dose delivered during treatment aid in confirming the prescribed dose and also to replan/reassess the treatment in situations where the planned dose is not delivered as expected by the treating physician. Major accidents in radiotherapy would have been averted if real time dosimetry is incorporated as part of the routine radiotherapy procedure. Of late real-time dosimetry is becoming popular with complex treatments in radiotherapy. Real-time dosimetry can be either in the form of point doses or planar doses or projected on to a 3D image dataset to obtain volumetric dose. They either provide entrance dose or exit dose or dose inside the natural cavities of a patient. In external beam radiotherapy, there are four different established platforms whereby the delivered dose information can be obtained: (1) Collimator; (2) Patient; (3) Couch; and (4) Electronic Portal Imaging Device. Current real-time dosimetric techniques available in radiotherapy have their own advantages and disadvantages and a combination of one or more of these methods provide vital information about the actual dose delivered to radiotherapy patients.

Keywords: Cancer, Radiotherapy, External beam, Dosimetry, Real-time

Core tip: Treatment outcome in radiotherapy is highly dependent on the dose delivered to the tumor volume with minimal dose to the surrounding critical structures. Real-time dosimetry plays a crucial role in assessing the accuracy of dose delivered to patients undergoing radiotherapy. Several radiotherapy accidents would have been avoided if real-time dosimetry was part of the radiotherapy treatment procedure. This article highlights different approaches to assess real-time dosimetry in external beam radiotherapy.