Image guidance protocols – balancing imaging parameters against scan time

Bates AM, Scaife JE, Tudor GSJ, Jena R, Romanchikova M, Dean JC, Hoole ACF, Simmons MPD, Burnet NG. Image guidance protocols – balancing imaging parameters against scan time. Brit J Radiol. 2013 Dec; 86(1032): 20130385.


Objective:Optimisation of imaging protocols is essential to maximise the use of image-guided radiotherapy. This article evaluates the time for daily online imaging with TomoTherapy® (Accuray®, Sunnyvale, CA), separating mechanical scan acquisition from radiographer-led image matching, to estimate the time required for a clinical research study (VoxTox).Methods:Over 5 years, 18 533 treatments were recorded for 3 tumour sites of interest (prostate, head and neck and central nervous system). Data were collected for scan length, number of CT slices, slice thickness, scan acquisition time and image matching time.Results:The proportion of coarse thickness scans increased over time, with a move of making coarse scans as the default. There was a strong correlation between scan time and scan length. Scan acquisition requires 40 s of processing time. For coarse scans, each additional centimetre requires 8 s for acquisition. Image matching takes approximately 1.5 times as long, so each additional centimetre needs 20 s extra in total. Modest changes to the imaging protocol have minimal impact over the course of the day.Conclusion:This work quantified the effect of changes to clinical protocols required for research. The results have been found to be reassuring in the busy National Institutes of Health department.Advances in knowledgeThis novel method of data collection and analysis provides evidence of the minimal impact of research on clinical turnover. Whilst the data relate specifically to TomoTherapy, some aspects may apply to other platforms in the future.

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