Motion-induced range changes and incorrectly placed dose spots strongly affect the quality of pencil-beam-scanned (PBS) proton therapy, especially in thoracic tumour sites, where density changes are large. Thus motion-mitigation techniques are necessary, which must be validated in a realistic patient-like geometry. We report on the development and characterisation of a dynamic, anthropomorphic, thorax phantom that can realistically mimic thoracic motions and anatomical features for verifications of proton and photon 4D treatments. The presented phantom is of an average thorax size, and consists of inflatable, deformable lungs surrounded by a skeleton and skin. A mobile ''tumour'' is embedded in the lungs in which dosimetry devices (such as radiochromic films) can be inserted. Motion of the tumour and deformation of the thorax is controlled via a custom made pump system driving air into and out of the lungs. Comprehensive commissioning tests have been performed to evaluate the mechanical performance of the phantom, its visibility on CT and MR imaging and its feasibility for dosimetric validation of 4D proton treatments. The phantom performed well on both regular and irregular pre-programmed breathing curves, reaching peak-to-peak amplitudes in the tumour of <20 mm. Some hysteresis in the inflation versus deflation phases was seen. All materials were clearly visualised in CT scans, and all, except the bone and lung components, were MRI visible. Radiochromic film measurements in the phantom showed that imaging for repositioning was required (as for a patient treatment). Dosimetry was feasible with Gamma Index agreements (4%/4 mm) between film dose and planned dose >90% in the central planes of the target. The results of this study demonstrate that this anthropomorphic thorax phantom is suitable for imaging and dosimetric studies in a thoracic geometry closely-matched to lung cancer patients under realistic motion conditions.
Physics in Medicine and Biology, vol. 62 (6), pp. 2486-2504, Feb 2017.