RadCalc QA software verifies non-standard treatment plans for HDR brachytherapy

Medical physicists at University Hospitals Birmingham in the UK rely on LAP’s RadCalc QA secondary check software to support their high-dose-rate brachytherapy programme.


Find the original article on the Physics World website.


Independent patient QA and secondary dose calculations are key to safe, consistent and efficient radiation delivery within the high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy programme at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, a healthcare network serving the West Midlands region of the UK. With this in mind, the Birmingham radiation oncology team has, for the past decade, relied on LAP’s RadCalc QA secondary check software – a suite of widely deployed QA tools that provides medical physicists and dosimetrists with fully automated and independent dosimetric verification of their radiotherapy treatment planning systems (TPS) – for the immediate validation of its brachytherapy plans.

For context, HDR brachytherapy involves the clinical application of radioactive isotopes to deliver therapeutic radiation to internal or superficial tumours – a targeted procedure that allows a higher dose of radiation to the tumour site before or after surgery. In the case of interstitial delivery, the radioactive source (Ir-192, for example) is placed directly into the tumour target, while contact brachytherapy requires placement of the source in a space adjacent to the target tissue (in an internal cavity, for example, or externally on the skin). Either way, HDR brachytherapy is a highly conformal radiation treatment that requires precise planning and verification to avoid collateral damage to healthy tissues and adjacent organs at risk (OARs) – including the bowel and the bladder in the case of HDR treatment of gynaecological cancers.

“The first step [in HDR brachytherapy] is to insert empty catheters or applicators into the patient for delivery of the source from the treatment unit to the tumour,” explains Ruth Wyatt, lead physicist for brachytherapy at University Hospitals Birmingham. “Everything happens in one session: the applicators or catheters are inserted; scans are taken; the treatment is planned, checked and delivered. All of which means that speed and workflow efficiency are very important.”

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