Degeneracy, frequency response and filtering in IMRT optimization
Physics in Medicine and Biology
This paper attempts to provide an answer to some questions that remain either poorly understood, or not well documented in the literature, on basic issues related to intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The questions examined are: the relationship between degeneracy and frequency response of optimizations, effects of initial beamlet fluence assignment and stopping point, what does filtering of an optimized beamlet map actually do and how could image analysis help to obtain better
... zations. Two target functions are studied, a quadratic cost function and the log likelihood function of the dynamically penalized likelihood (DPL) algorithm. The algorithms used are the conjugate gradient, the stochastic adaptive simulated annealing and the DPL. One simple phantom is used to show the development of the analysis tools used and two clinical cases of medium and large dose matrix size (a meningioma and a prostate) are studied in detail. The conclusions reached are that the high number of iterations that is needed to avoid degeneracy is not warranted in clinical practice, as the quality of the optimizations, as judged by the DVHs and dose distributions obtained, does not improve significantly after a certain point. It is also shown that the optimum initial beamlet fluence assignment for analytical iterative algorithms is a uniform distribution, but such an assignment does not help a stochastic method of optimization. Stopping points for the studied algorithms are discussed and the deterioration of DVH characteristics with filtering is shown to be partially recoverable by the use of space-variant filtering techniques.