Spatial Variation of Dosimetric Leaf Gap and Its Impact on Absolute Dose Delivery in Radiation Therapy
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During dose calculation, the Eclipse Treatment Planning system (TPS) retracts the MLC leaf positions by half of the dosimetric leaf gap (DLG) value (measured at central axis) for all leaf positions in a dynamic MLC plan to accurately model the rounded leaf ends. The aim of this study is to map the variation of DLG along the travel path of each MLC leaf pair and quantify how this variation impacts delivered dose. 6 MV DLG values were measured for all MLC leaf pairs in increments of 1.0 cm (from the line intersecting the CAX and perpendicular to MLC motion) to 13.0 cm off axis distance at depth of dose maximum. The measurements were performed on two Varian LINACs, both employing the Millennium 120-leaf MLC. The measurements were performed at several locations in the beam with both a Sun Nuclear MapCHECK device and a PTW pinpoint ion chamber. The measured DLGs for the middle 40 MLC leaf pairs (each 0.5 cm width) at positions along a line through the CAX and perpendicular to MLC leaf travel direction were very similar, varying maximally by only 0.2 mm. The outer 20 MLC leaf pairs (each 1.0 cm width) have much lower DLG values, about 0.3 to 0.5 mm lower than the central MLC leaf pair, at their respective central line position. Overall, the mean and the maximum variation between the 0.5 cm width leaves and the 1.0 cm width leaf pairs is 0.32 mm and 0.65 mm, respectively. The spatial variation in DLG is caused by the variation of intraleaf transmission through MLC leaves. Fluences centered on the CAX would not be affected since DLG does not vary; but any fluences residing significantly off-axis with narrow sweeping leaves may exhibit significant dose differences. This is due to the fact that there are differences in DLG between the true DLG exhibited by the 1.0 cm width outer leaves and the constant DLG value utilized by the TPS for dose calculation. Since there are large differences in DLG between the 0.5 cm width leaf pairs and 1.0 cm width leaf pairs, there is a need to correct the TPS plans, especially those with high modulation (narrow dynamic MLC gap), with 2D variation of DLG.