To investigate the role of beam orientation optimization in intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and to examine the potential benefits of noncoplanar intensity-modulated beams.A beam orientation optimization algorithm was implemented. For this purpose, system variables were divided into two groups: beam position (gantry and table angles) and beam profile (beamlet weights). Simulated annealing was used for beam orientation optimization and the simultaneous iterative inverse treatment planning algorithm (SIITP) for beam intensity profile optimization. Three clinical cases were studied: a localized prostate cancer, a nasopharyngeal cancer, and a paraspinal tumor. Nine fields were used for all treatments. For each case, 3 types of treatment plan optimization were performed: (1) beam intensity profiles were optimized for 9 equiangular spaced coplanar beams; (2) orientations and intensity profiles were optimized for 9 coplanar beams; (3) orientations and intensity profiles were optimized for 9 noncoplanar beams.For the localized prostate case, all 3 types of optimization described above resulted in dose distributions of a similar quality. For the nasopharynx case, optimized noncoplanar beams provided a significant gain in the gross tumor volume coverage. For the paraspinal case, orientation optimization using noncoplanar beams resulted in better kidney sparing and improved gross tumor volume coverage.The sensitivity of an IMRT treatment plan with respect to the selection of beam orientations varies from site to site. For some cases, the choice of beam orientations is important even when the number of beams is as large as 9. Noncoplanar beams provide an additional degree of freedom for IMRT treatment optimization and may allow for notable improvement in the quality of some complicated plans.
View details for Web of Science ID 000168781000033
View details for PubMedID 11380245