Technical Note: Investigating interplay effects in pencil beam scanning proton therapy with a 4D XCAT phantom within the RayStation treatment planning system

Erik den Boer, Jörg Wulff, UIf Mäder, Erik Engwall, Christian Bäumer, Zoltan Perko, Beate Timmermann

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorScientificpeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Pencil beam scanning (PBS) for moving targets is known to be impacted by interplay effects. Four-dimensional computed tomography (4DCT)-based motion evaluation is crucial for understanding interplay and developing mitigation strategies. Availability of high-quality 4DCTs with variable breathing traces is limited. Purpose of this work is the development of a framework for interplay analysis using 4D-XCAT phantoms in conjunction with time-resolved irradiation patterns in a commercial treatment planning system (TPS). Four-dimensional dynamically accumulated dose distributions (4DDDs) are simulated in an in-silico study for a PBS liver treatment. Methods: An XCAT phantom with 50 phases, varying linearly in amplitude each by 1 mm, was combined with the RayStation TPS (7.99.10). Deformable registration was used with time-resolved dose calculation, mapping XCAT phases to motion signals. To illustrate the applicability of the method a two-field liver irradiation plan was used. A variety sin4 type motion signals, varying in amplitude (1–20 mm), period (1.6–5.2 s) and phase (0–2π) were applied. Either single variable variations or random combinations were selected. The interplay effect within a clinical target (5 cm diameter) was characterized in terms of homogeneity index (HI5), with and without five paintings. In total 2092 scenarios were analyzed within RayStation. Results: A framework is presented for interplay research, allowing for flexibility in determining motion management techniques, increasing reproducibility, and enabling comparisons of different methods. A case study showed the interplay effect was correlated with amplitude and strongly affected by the starting phase, leading to large variance. The average of all scenarios (single fraction) resulted in HI5 of 0.31 (±0.11), while introduction of five times layered repainting reduced this to 0.11(±0.03). Conclusion: The developed framework, which uses the XCAT phantom and RayStation, allows detailed analysis of motion in context of PBS with comparable results to clinical cases. Flexibility in defining motion patterns for detailed anatomies in combination with time-resolved dose calculation, facilitates investigation of optimal treatment and motion mitigation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • interplay effect
  • moving target
  • proton therapy
  • XCAT phantom

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Technical Note: Investigating interplay effects in pencil beam scanning proton therapy with a 4D XCAT phantom within the RayStation treatment planning system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this