A protocol of electronic portal imaging (EPI) registration for the verification of radiation treatment fields has been implemented at our institution. A template is generated using the reference images, which is then registered with the EPI for treatment verification. This study examines interobserver consistency among trained radiation therapists in the registration and verification of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) for patients with prostate cancer.
Materials and methods
20 consecutive patients with prostate cancer undergoing EBRT were analyzed. The EPIs from the initial 10 fractions were registered independently by 6 trained radiation therapist observers. For each fraction, an anterior-posterior (AP or PA) and left lateral (Lat) EPIs were generated and registered with the reference images. Two measures of displacement for the AP EPI in the superior-inferior (SI) and right left (RL) directions and two measures of displacement for the Lat EPI in the AP and SI directions were prospectively recorded. A total of 2400 images and 4800 measures were analyzed. Means and standard deviations, as well as systematic and random errors were calculated for each observer. Differences between observers were compared using the chi-square test. Variance components analysis was used to evaluate how much variance is attributed to the observers. Time trends were estimated using repeated measures analysis.
Inter-observer variation expressed as the standard deviation of the six observers' measurements within each image were 0.7, 1.0, 1.7 and 1.4 mm for APLR, APSI, LatAP and LatSI respectively. Variance components analysis showed that the variation attributed to the observers was small compared to variation due to the images. On repeated measure analysis, time trends were apparent only for the APLR and LatSI measurements. Their magnitude however was small.
No clinically important systematic observer effect or time trends were identified in the registration of EPI by the radiation therapist observers in this study. These findings are useful in the documentation of consistency and reliability in the quality assurance of treatment verification of EBRT for prostate cancer.