In vivo dosimetry in brachytherapy: Requirements and future directions for research, development, and clinical practice
Brachytherapy can deliver high doses to the target while sparing healthy tissues due to its steep dose gradient leading to excellent clinical outcome. Treatment accuracy depends on several manual steps making brachytherapy susceptible to operational mistakes. Currently, treatment delivery verification is not routinely available and has led, in some cases, to systematic errors going unnoticed for years. The brachytherapy community promoted developments in in vivo dosimetry (IVD) through research groups and small companies. Although very few of the systems have been used clinically, it was demonstrated that the likelihood of detecting deviations from the treatment plan increases significantly with time-resolved methods. Time–resolved methods could interrupt a treatment avoiding gross errors which is not possible with time-integrated dosimetry. In addition, lower experimental uncertainties can be achieved by using source-tracking instead of direct dose measurements. However, the detector position in relation to the patient anatomy remains a main source of uncertainty. The next steps towards clinical implementation will require clinical trials and systematic reporting of errors and near-misses. It is of utmost importance for each IVD system that its sensitivity to different types of errors is well understood, so that end-users can select the most suitable method for their needs. This report aims to formulate requirements for the stakeholders (clinics, vendors, and researchers) to facilitate increased clinical use of IVD in brachytherapy. The report focuses on high dose-rate IVD in brachytherapy providing an overview and outlining the need for further development and research.