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While abdominal compression (AC) can be used to reduce respiratory liver motion in patients receiving helical tomotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma, the nature and extent of this effect is not well described. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the changes in magnitude of three-dimensional liver motion with abdominal compression using four-dimensional (4D) computed tomography (CT) images of several plate positions.

From January 2012 to October 2015, 72 patients with intrahepatic carcinoma and divided into four groups underwent 4D-CT scans to assess respiratory liver motion. Of the 72 patients, 19 underwent abdominal compression of the cephalic area between the subxiphoid and umbilicus (group A), 16 underwent abdominal compression of the caudal region between the subxiphoid area and the umbilicus (group B), 11 patients underwent abdominal compression of the caudal umbilicus (group C), and 26 patients remained free breathing (group D). 4D-CT images were sorted into ten-image series, according to the respiratory phase from the end inspiration to the end expiration, and then transferred to treatment planning software. All liver contours were drawn by a single physician and confirmed by a second physician. Liver relative coordinates were automatically generated to calculate the liver respiratory motion in different axial directions to compile the 10 ten contours into a single composite image. Differences in respiratory liver motion were assessed with a one-way analysis of variance test of significance.

The average respiratory liver motion in the axial direction was 4.53 ± 1.16, 7.56 ± 1.30, 9.95 ± 2.32, and 9.53 ± 2.62 mm in groups A, B, C, and D, respectively, with a significant change among the four groups ( < 0.001). Abdominal compression was most effective in group A (compression plate on the subxiphoid area), with liver displacement being 2.53 ± 0.93, 4.53 ± 1.16, and 2.14 ± 0.92 mm on the -, -, and -axes, respectively. There was no significant difference in respiratory liver motion between group C (displacement: 3.23 ± 1.47, 9.95 ± 2.32, and 2.92 ± 1.10 mm on the -, -, and -axes, respectively) and group D (displacement: 3.35 ± 1.55, 9.53 ± 2.62, and 3.35 ± 1.73 mm on the -, -, and -axes, respectively). Abdominal compression was least effective in group C (compression on caudal umbilicus), with liver motion in this group similar to that of free-breathing patients (group D).

4D-CT scans revealed significant liver motion control via abdominal compression of the subxiphoid area; however, this control of liver motion was not observed with compression of the caudal umbilicus. The authors, therefore, recommend compression of the subxiphoid area in patients undergoing external radiotherapy for intrahepatic carcinoma.


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