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To design, construct, and commission a set of computer-controlled motorized jaws for a micro-CT/RT system to perform conformal image-guided small animal radiotherapy.

The authors designed and evaluated a system of custom-built motorized orthogonal jaws, which allows the delivery of off-axis rectangular fields on a GE eXplore CT 120 preclinical imaging system. The jaws in the x direction are independently driven, while the y-direction jaws are symmetric. All motors have backup encoders, verifying jaw positions. Mechanical performance of the jaws was characterized. Square beam profiles ranging from 2 × 2 to 60 × 60 mm2 were measured using EBT2 film in the center of a 70 × 70 × 22 mm3 solid water block. Similarly, absolute depth dose was measured in a solid water and EBT2 film stack 50 × 50 × 50 mm3. A calibrated Farmer ion chamber in a 70 × 70 × 20 mm3 solid water block was used to measure the output of three field sizes: 50 × 50, 40 × 40, and 30 × 30 mm2. Elliptical target plans were delivered to films to assess overall system performance. Respiratory-gated treatment was implemented on the system and initially proved using a simple sinusoidal motion phantom. All films were scanned on a flatbed scanner (Epson 1000XL) and converted to dose using a fitted calibration curve. A Monte Carlo beam model of the micro-CT with the jaws has been created using BEAMnrc for comparison with the measurements. An example image-guided partial lung irradiation in a rat is demonstrated.

The averaged random error of positioning each jaw is less than 0.1 mm. Relative output factors measured with the ion chamber agree with Monte Carlo simulations within 2%. Beam profiles and absolute depth dose curves measured from the films agree with simulations within measurement uncertainty. Respiratory-gated treatments applied to a phantom moving with a peak-to-peak amplitude of 5 mm showed improved beam penumbra (80%–20%) from 3.9 to 0.8 mm.

A set of computer-controlled motorized jaws for a micro-CT/RT system were constructed with position reliably better than a tenth of a millimeter. The hardware system is ready for image-guided conformal radiotherapy for small animals with capability of respiratory-gated delivery.


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