a1 Radiotherapy Department, Southampton Oncology Centre Level A, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK
Introduction: The radiotherapy profession has learned from errors made during treatment planning and delivery. Quality assurance in radiotherapy (QART) procedures are implemented to reduce the risk of an error occuring. The chief medical officer, along with others, has recommended that the QART of all departments includes in vivo dosimetry (IVD) to ensure that the delivered dose equals the planned dose.
Why we need IVD: A lot of effort goes into field verification and it is just as vital that dosimetry is verified. Overdose to normal tissue can cause devastating side effects, even death, whilst tumour underdose may compromise control. Without IVD, there is no way of knowing that a patient is receiving an overdose until it is too late. Underdoses are unlikely to manifest without IVD. IVD allows radiotherapists and physicists to correct for dose errors in a timely manner.
Why IVD is unnecessary: Radiotherapy accidents are rare. Implementing IVD is expensive, time consuming and takes resources away from developing techniques which will improve patient outcomes. Current IVD methods are not suitable for modern techniques such as intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).
Discussion: IVD appears to be a useful QART tool, particularly as dose escalation techniques develop allowing a higher dose to be delivered to the tumour. Departments may be unwilling to spend time and money on an IVD system that is costly and time consuming if it cannot perform IVD on modern techniques. Electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs) can be utilised to perform IVD on complex techniques, such as IMRT and arc therapy, which current IVD methods cannot, however there is currently no EPID IVD system available commercially.
Conclusion: Ideally, all departments would conduct IVD on all new patients. IVD has proven to be an important QART tool, however, until technology is developed to allow EPID to include IVD, the procedure is not likely to be implemented countrywide.