Imaging has become an essential tool in modern radiotherapy (RT), being used to plan dose delivery prior to treatment and verify target position before and during treatment. Ultrasound (US) imaging is cost-effective in providing excellent contrast at high resolution for depicting soft tissue targets apart from those shielded by the lungs or cranium.
As a result, it is increasingly used in RT setup verification for the measurement of inter-fraction motion, the subject of Part I of this review (Fontanarosa et al 2015 Phys. Med. Biol. 60 R77-114). The combination of rapid imaging and zero ionising radiation dose makes US highly suitable for estimating intra-fraction motion. The current paper (Part II of the review) covers this topic. The basic technology for US motion estimation, and its current clinical application to the prostate, is described here, along with recent developments in robust motion-estimation algorithms, and three dimensional (3D) imaging. Together, these are likely to drive an increase in the number of future clinical studies and the range of cancer sites in which US motion management is applied. Also reviewed are selections of existing and proposed novel applications of US imaging to RT. These are driven by exciting developments in structural, functional and molecular US imaging and analytical techniques such as backscatter tissue analysis, elastography, photoacoustography, contrast-specific imaging, dynamic contrast analysis, microvascular and super-resolution imaging, and targeted microbubbles. Such techniques show promise for predicting and measuring the outcome of RT, quantifying normal tissue toxicity, improving tumour definition and defining a biological target volume that describes radiation sensitive regions of the tumour. US offers easy, low cost and efficient integration of these techniques into the RT workflow. US contrast technology also has potential to be used actively to assist RT by manipulating the tumour cell environment and by improving the delivery of radiosensitising agents. Finally, US imaging offers various ways to measure dose in 3D. If technical problems can be overcome, these hold potential for wide-dissemination of cost-effective pre-treatment dose verification and in vivo dose monitoring methods. It is concluded that US imaging could eventually contribute to all aspects of the RT workflow.
Physics in medicine and biology. 2016 Mar 22 [Epub ahead of print]
Tuathan O'Shea, Jeffrey Bamber, Davide Fontanarosa, Skadi van der Meer, Frank Verhaegen, Emma Harris
Joint Department of Physics, Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Sutton, London SM2 5NG, UK.