Negative margin technique - a novel planning strategy to improve dose conformation in SBRT using dynamic conformal arc delivery

Siyong Kim, Taeho Kim, Stephen J. Ko, Christopher Serago, Ashley A. Smith, Laura A. Vallow, Jennifer L. Peterson, Rena Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to introduce a planning strategy for dynamic conformal arc therapy (DCAT), named negative margin technique (NMT), and evaluate its dosimetric gain in lung stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). In DCAT, the field aperture is continuously conformed to the planning target volume (PTV) with an aperture margin (AM) to compensate for the penumbra effect with gantry rotation. It is a common belief the AM should be positive (or at least 'zero'). However, the radial penumbra width becomes significantly wider because of continuously overlapped beams in arc delivery. Therefore, we hypothesize if the 'negative margin' is applied in the radial direction, it would improve the PTV dose conformation while reducing normal tissue dose. For verification, trial plans were made using the NMT and compared with 'zero margin (ZM)' plans for five lung SBRT cases representing different situations depending on the location of the PTV and organs at risk. All plans met 95% PTV coverage with the prescription dose and spared the spinal cord below the tolerance. Two conventional conformation indices (the ratio of prescription isodose volume to the PTV (CI100) and the ratio of 50% prescription isodose volume to the PTV (CI50)) and a modified conformation index were investigated. The maximum dose at 2 cm from the PTV (Dmax-2cm) and the percent of lung volume receiving 20 Gy (V20) were also evaluated. Another planning simulation was performed with a total of ten randomly selected lung SBRT cases to mimic actual practice. In this simulation, optimization with ZM was first performed and further optimization using the NMT was processed for cases that could not meet a goal of CI100 = 1.2 with the ZM optimization. In all cases, both the CI100 and CI50 values were significantly reduced (overall, 9.4% ± 4.1% and 5.9%± 3.1% for CI100 and CI50, respectively). The modified conformation index values also showed similar improvement (overall, 10.1% ± 5.7% increase). Reduction of Dmax-2cm was also observed in all cases (4.5% ± 2.2%). V20 values decreased in all cases but one (5.7% ± 3.9%, excluding the increased case). In the random group simulation, it was possible to achieve the goal with just one NMT trial for five out of six cases that did not meet the goal in the ZM optimization. Interestingly, however, one case needed as many as six iterations to get the CI100 = 1.2 goal. The NMT turned out to be an effective planning strategy that could bring significant improvement of dose conformation. The NMT can be easily implemented in most clinics with no prerequisite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • Dynamic conformal arc therapy
  • Field aperture margin
  • Lung SBRT
  • Negative margin


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