A comprehensive geometric quality assurance framework for preclinical microirradiators

January 17, 2019


The mechanical and geometric accuracy of small animal image‐guided radiotherapy (SA‐IGRT) systems is critical and is affected by a number of system‐related factors. Because of the small dimensions involved in preclinical radiotherapy research, such factors can individually and/or cumulatively contribute to significant errors in the small animal radiation research. In this study, we developed and implemented a comprehensive quality assurance (QA) framework for characterizing the mechanical and geometric constancy and accuracy of the small animal radiation research platform (SARRP) system.


We quantified the accuracy of gantry and stage rotation isocentricity and positional stage translations. We determined the accuracy and symmetry of field sizes formed by collimators. We evaluated collimator assembly system performance by characterization of collimator axis alignment along the beam axis during gantry rotation. Furthermore, we quantified the end‐to‐end precision and accuracy of image‐guided delivery by examining the congruence of intended (e.g., imaging) and actual delivery (measured during experiment) isocenters.


The fine and broad beams showed different central axes. The center of the beam was offset toward the cathode (0.22 ± 0.05 mm) when switching the beam from a fine to a broad focus. Larger (custom‐made) collimators were more symmetrically centered than smaller (standard) collimators. The field formed by a 1‐mm circular collimator was found to deviate from the circular shape, measuring 1.55 mm and 1.25 mm in the X and Y directions, respectively. The 40‐mm collimator showed a field that was 1.65 (4.13%) and 1.3 (3.25%) mm smaller than nominal values in the X and Y directions, respectively, and the 30‐mm collimator field was smaller by 0.75 mm (2.5%) in the X direction. Results showed that fields formed by other collimators were accurate in both directions and had ≤2% error. The size of the gantry rotation isocenter was 1.45 ± 0.15 mm. While the gantry rotated, lateral and longitudinal isocenter displacements ranged from 0 to −0.34 and −0.44 to 0.33 mm, respectively. Maximum lateral and longitudinal displacements were found at obliques gantry angles of −135° and 45°, respectively. The stage translational accuracies were 0.015, 0.010, and 0 mm in the X, Y, and Z directions, respectively. The size of the stage rotation runout was 2.73 ± 0.3 mm. Maximum displacements of the stage rotational axis were −0.38 (X direction) and −0.26 (Y direction) mm at stage angles of −45° and −135°, respectively. We found that displacements of intended and actual delivery isocenters were 0.24 ± 0.10, 0.12 ± 0.62, and 0.12 ± 0.42 mm in the X, Y, and Z directions, respectively.


We used the SARRP built‐in electronic portal imaging device (EPID) to perform most of the geometric QA tests, demonstrating the utility of the EPID for characterizing the geometric accuracy and precision of the SA‐IGRT system. However, in principle, the methodology and tests developed here are applicable to any digital imaging detector available in SA‐IGRT systems or film. The flexibility of film allows these tests to be adapted for QA of non‐IGRT, cabinet irradiators, which make up many of preclinical small animal irradiators.

Akbar Anvari, Yannick Poirier, Amit Sawant

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