A Risk-Adjusted Control Chart to Evaluate Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy Plan Quality

Arkajyoti Roy*, Dan Cutright, Mahesh Gopalakrishnan, Arthur B. Yeh, Bharat B. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: This study aimed to develop a quality control framework for intensity modulated radiation therapy plan evaluations that can account for variations in patient- and treatment-specific risk factors. Methods and Materials: Patient-specific risk factors, such as a patient's anatomy and tumor dose requirements, affect organs-at-risk (OARs) dose-volume histograms (DVHs), which in turn affects plan quality and can potentially cause adverse effects. Treatment-specific risk factors, such as the use of chemotherapy and surgery, are clinically relevant when evaluating radiation therapy planning criteria. A risk-adjusted control chart was developed to identify unusual plan quality after accounting for patient- and treatment-specific risk factors. In this proof of concept, 6 OAR DVH points and average monitor units serve as proxies for plan quality. Eighteen risk factors are considered for modeling quality: planning target volume (PTV) and OAR cross-sectional areas; volumes, spreads, and surface areas; minimum and centroid distances between OARs and the PTV; 6 PTV DVH points; use of chemotherapy; and surgery. A total of 69 head and neck cases were used to demonstrate the application of risk-adjusted control charts, and the results were compared with the application of conventional control charts. Results: The risk-adjusted control chart remains robust to interpatient variations in the studied risk factors, unlike the conventional control chart. For the brainstem, the conventional chart signaled 4 patients with unusual (out-of-control) doses to 2% brainstem volume. However, the adjusted chart did not signal any plans after accounting for their risk factors. For the spinal cord doses to 2% brainstem volume, the conventional chart signaled 2 patients, and the adjusted chart signaled a separate patient after accounting for their risk factors. Similar adjustments were observed for the other DVH points when evaluating brainstem, spinal cord, ipsilateral parotid, and average monitor units. The adjustments can be directly attributed to the patient- and treatment-specific risk factors. Conclusions: A risk-adjusted control chart was developed to evaluate plan quality, which is robust to variations in patient- and treatment-specific parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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