Purpose: The multiple energy extraction (MEE) delivery technique for synchrotron-based proton delivery systems reduces beam delivery time by decelerating the beam multiple times during one accelerator spill, but this might cause additional plan quality degradation due to intrafractional motion. We seek to determine whether MEE causes significantly different plan quality degradation compared to single energy extraction (SEE) for lung cancer treatments due to the interplay effect. Methods: Ten lung cancer patients treated with IMPT at our institution were nonrandomly sampled based on a representative range of tumor motion amplitudes, tumor volumes, and respiratory periods. Dose-volume histogram (DVH) indices from single-fraction SEE and MEE four-dimensional (4D) dynamic dose distributions were compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Distributions of monitor units (MU) to breathing phases were investigated for features associated with plan quality degradation. SEE and MEE DVH indices were compared in fractionated deliveries of the worst-case patient treatment scenario to evaluate the impact of fractionation. Results: There were no clinically significant differences in target mean dose, target dose conformity, or dose to organs-at-risk between SEE and MEE in single-fraction delivery. Three patients had significantly worse dose homogeneity with MEE compared to SEE (single-fraction mean D5%-D95% increased by up to 9.6% of prescription dose), and plots of MU distribution to breathing phases showed synchronization patterns with MEE but not SEE. However, after 30 fractions the patient in the worst-case scenario had clinically acceptable target dose homogeneity and coverage with MEE (mean D5%–D95% increased by 1% compared to SEE). Conclusions: For some patients with breathing periods close to the mean spill duration, MEE resulted in significantly worse single-fraction target dose homogeneity compared to SEE due to the interplay effect. However, this was mitigated by fractionation, and target dose homogeneity and coverage were clinically acceptable after 30 fractions with MEE.
- interplay effect
- multiple energy extraction
- proton therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging