The newest release of the Eclipse (Varian) treatment planning system (TPS) includes an optimizing engine for Elekta volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) planning. The purpose of this study was to evaluate this new algorithm and to compare it to intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for various disease sites by creating single- and double-arc VMAT plans.
A total of 162 plans were evaluated in this study, including 38 endometrial, 57 head and neck, 12 brain, 10 breast and 45 prostate cancer cases. The real-life IMRT plans were developed during routine clinical cases using the TPS Eclipse. VMAT plans were generated using a preclinical version of Eclipse with tumor-region-specific optimizing templates without interference of the operator: with one full arc (1A) and with two full arcs (2A), and with partial arcs for breast and prostate with hip implant cases. All plans were evaluated based on target coverage, homogeneity and conformity. The organs at risk (OARs) were analyzed according to plan objectives, such as the mean and maximum doses. If one or more objectives were exceeded, the plan was considered clinically unacceptable, and a second VMAT plan was created by adapting the optimization penalties once.
Compared to IMRT, single- and double-arc VMAT plans showed comparable or better results concerning the target coverage: the maximum dose in the target for 1A is the same as that for IMRT; for 2A, an average reduction of 1.3% over all plans was observed. The conformity showed a statistically significant improvement for both 1A (+3%) and 2A (+6%). The mean total body dose was statistically significant lower for the considered arc techniques (IMRT: 16.0 Gy, VMAT: 15.3 Gy, p < 0.001). However, the sparing of OARs shows individual behavior that depends strongly on the different tumor regions. A clear difference is found in the number of monitor units (MUs) per plan: VMAT shows a reduction of 31%.
These findings demonstrate that based on optimizing templates with minimal interaction of the operator, the Eclipse TPS is able to achieve a plan quality for the Elekta VMAT delivery technique that is comparable to that of fixed-field IMRT. Plans with two arcs show better dose distributions than plans with one arc.