Modern pre-clinical radiation therapy (RT) research requires high precision and accurate dosimetry to facilitate the translation of research findings into clinical practice. Several systems are available that provide precise delivery and on-board imaging capabilities, highlighting the need for a quality management program (QMP) to ensure consistent and accurate radiation dose delivery. An ongoing, simple, and efficient QMP for image-guided robotic small animal irradiators used in pre-clinical RT research is described. Protocols were developed and implemented to assess the dose output constancy (based on the AAPM TG-61 protocol), cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) image quality and object representation accuracy (using a custom-designed imaging phantom), CBCT-guided target localization accuracy and consistency of the CBCT-based dose calculation. To facilitate an efficient read-out and limit the user dependence of the QMP data analysis, a semi-automatic image analysis and data representation program was developed using the technical computing software MATLAB. The results of the first 6-mo experience using the suggested QMP for a Small Animal Radiation Research Platform (SARRP) are presented, with data collected on a bi-monthly basis. The dosimetric output constancy was established to be within ±1 %, the consistency of the image resolution was within ±0.2 mm, the accuracy of CBCT-guided target localization was within ±0.5 mm, and dose calculation consistency was within ±2 s (±3%) per treatment beam. Based on these results, this simple quality assurance program allows for the detection of inconsistencies in dosimetric or imaging parameters that are beyond the acceptable variability for a reliable and accurate pre-clinical RT system, on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
Brodin NP, Guha C, Tomé WA.