Beam flatness modulation for a flattening filter free photon beam utilizing a novel direct leaf trajectory optimization model

Nicholas J. Potter, Guanghua Yan, Hongcheng Liu, Haitham Alahmad, Darren L. Kahler, Chihray Liu, Jonathan G. Li, Bo Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Flattening filter free (FFF) linear accelerators produce a fluence distribution that is forward peaked. Various dosimetric benefits, such as increased dose rate, reduced leakage and out of field dose has led to the growth of FFF technology in the clinic. The literature has suggested the idea of vendors offering dedicated FFF units where the flattening filter (FF) is removed completely and manipulating the beam to deliver conventional flat radiotherapy treatments. This work aims to develop an effective way to deliver modulated flat beam treatments, rather than utilizing a physical FF. This novel optimization model is an extension of the direct leaf trajectory optimization (DLTO) previously developed for volumetric modulated radiation therapy (VMAT) and is capable of accounting for all machine and multileaf collimator (MLC) dynamic delivery constraints, using a combination of linear constraints and a convex objective function. Furthermore, the tongue and groove (T&G) effect was also incorporated directly into our model without introducing nonlinearity to the constraints, nor nonconvexity to the objective function. The overall beam flatness, machine deliverability, and treatment time efficiency were assessed. Regular square fields, including field sizes of 10 × 10 cm2 to 40 × 40 cm2 were analyzed, as well as three clinical fields, and three arbitrary contours with "concave" features. Quantitative flatness was measured for all modulated FFF fields, and the results were comparable or better than their open FF counterparts, with the majority having a quantitative flatness of less than 3.0%. The modulated FFF beams, due to the included efficiency constraint, were able to achieve acceptable delivery time compared to their open FF counterpart. The results indicated that the dose uniformity and flatness for the modulated FFF beams optimized with the DLTO model can successfully match the uniformity and flatness of their conventional FF counterparts, and may even provide further benefit by taking advantage of the unique FFF beam characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-152
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiation
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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