Predicting the effect of indirect cell kill in the treatment of multiple brain metastases via single-isocenter/multitarget volumetric modulated arc therapy stereotactic radiosurgery

Allison N. Palmiero, Denise Fabian, Marcus E. Randall, William Clair, Damodar Pokhrel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Due to spatial uncertainty, patient setup errors are of major concern for radiosurgery of multiple brain metastases (m-bm) when using single-isocenter/multitarget (SIMT) volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) techniques. However, recent clinical outcome studies show high rates of tumor local control for SIMT-VMAT. In addition to direct cell kill (DCK), another possible explanation includes the effects of indirect cell kill (ICK) via devascularization for a single dose of 15 Gy or more and by inducing a radiation immune intratumor response. This study quantifies the role of indirect cell death in dosimetric errors as a function of spatial patient setup uncertainty for stereotactic treatments of multiple lesions. Material and Methods: Nine complex patients with 61 total tumors (2-16 tumors/patient) were planned using SIMT-VMAT with geometry similar to HyperArc with a 10MV-FFF beam (2400 MU/min). Isocenter was placed at the geometric center of all tumors. Average gross tumor volume (GTV) and planning target volume (PTV) were 1.1 cc (0.02–11.5) and 1.9 cc (0.11–18.8) with an average distance to isocenter of 5.4 cm (2.2–8.9). The prescription was 20 Gy to each PTV. Plans were recalculated with induced clinically observable patient setup errors [±2 mm, ±2o] in all six directions. Boolean structures were generated to calculate the effect of DCK via 20 Gy isodose volume (IDV) and ICK via 15 Gy IDV minus the 20 Gy IDV. Contributions of each IDV to the PTV coverage were analyzed along with normal brain toxicity due to the patient setup uncertainty. Induced uncertainty and minimum dose covering the entire PTV were analyzed to determine the maximum tolerable patient setup errors to utilize the ICK effect for radiosurgery of m-bm via SIMT-VMAT. Results: Patient setup errors of 1.3 mm /1.3° in all six directions must be maintained to achieve PTV coverage of the 15 Gy IDV for ICK. Setup errors of ±2 mm/2° showed clinically unacceptable loss of PTV coverage of 29.4 ± 14.6% even accounting the ICK effect. However, no clinically significant effect on normal brain dosimetry was observed. Conclusions: Radiosurgery of m-bm using SIMT-VMAT treatments have shown positive clinical outcomes even with small residual patient setup errors. These clinical outcomes, while largely due to DCK, may also potentially be due to the ICK. Potential mechanisms, such as devascularization and/or radiation-induced intratumor immune enhancement, should be explored to provide a better understanding of the radiobiological response of stereotactic radiosurgery of m-bm using a SIMT-VMAT plan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-103
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics published by Wiley Periodicals, LLC on behalf of The American Association of Physicists in Medicine


  • direct/indirect cell kill
  • multiple brain metastases
  • setup uncertainties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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