Ultrasound-based guidance of intensity-modulated radiation therapy

Albert Y.C. Fung, Komanduri M. Ayyangar, David Djajaputra, Ramasamy M. Nehru, Charles A. Enke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


In ultrasound-guided intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) of prostate cancer, ultrasound imaging ascertains the anatomical position of patients during x-ray therapy delivery. The ultrasound transducers are made of piezoelectric ceramics. The same crystal is used for both ultrasound production and reception. Three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound devices capture and correlate series of 2-dimensional (2D) B-mode images. The transducers are often arranged in a convex array for focusing. Lower frequency reaches greater depth, but results in low resolution. For clear image, some gel is usually applied between the probe and the skin contact surface. For prostate positioning, axial and sagittal scans are performed, and the volume contours from computed tomography (CT) planning are superimposed on the ultrasound images obtained before radiation delivery at the linear accelerator. The planning volumes are then overlaid on the ultrasound images and adjusted until they match. The computer automatically deduces the offset necessary to move the patient so that the treatment area is in the correct location. The couch is translated as needed. The currently available commercial equipment can attain a positional accuracy of 1-2 mm. Commercial manufacturer designs differ in the detection of probe coordinates relative to the isocenter. Some use a position-sensing robotic arm, while others have infrared light-emitting diodes or pattern-recognition software with charge-couple-device cameras. Commissioning includes testing of image quality and positional accuracy. Ultrasound is mainly used in prostate positioning. Data for 7825 daily fractions of 234 prostate patients indicated average 3D inter-fractional displacement of about 7.8 mm. There was no perceivable trend of shift over time. Scatter plots showed slight prevalence toward superior-posterior directions. Uncertainties of ultrasound guidance included tissue inhomogeneities, speckle noise, probe pressure, and inter-observer variation. Some published studies detected improvement in treatment based on gastrointestinal toxicity and the reduction of prostate movement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-29
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Dosimetry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Guidance
  • IMRT
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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