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Use of Hands-On Laboratory Sessions to Teach Brachytherapy Treatment Planning Concepts

J Huang*, B Thomadsen , J Miller , University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI


(Sunday, 7/14/2019)  

Room: ePoster Forums

Purpose: To demonstrate the value of hands-on treatment planning laboratory sessions in teaching brachytherapy concepts.

Methods: Interactive laboratory exercises were designed for a graduate-level medical physics course to teach advanced brachytherapy physics concepts and modern treatment planning techniques. Two Oncentra treatment planning workstations (Elekta) were donated and commissioned for educational use only. Anonymized patient images with a selection of clinical implants were imported into the planning workstations. In groups of two students per planning station, students performed contouring, catheter reconstruction, dwell position activation, and optimization for HDR treatments plans for gynecological, breast, and prostate treatment sites. Treatment plans were created using a variety of imaging techniques to demonstrate the advantages and limitations of different imaging modalities for brachytherapy planning. Topics introduced in lectures, e.g., TG-43 dose calculation formalism and EQD2 calculation, were reinforced through the laboratory exercises and follow-up questions. Case competitions were performed between student groups to foster enthusiasm and motivate students to create optimal treatment plans following international guidelines.

Results: Five laboratory exercises using the Oncentra planning systems were incorporated into the Advanced Brachytherapy Physics course at University of Wisconsin focusing on the following topics: 1) TG-43 formalism and 2) interstitial prostate, 3) tandem and ovoid cervical, 4) breast balloon, and 5) interstitial multi-catheter breast HDR treatment planning. In student evaluations of the course, the planning labs were evaluated more positively than the course as a whole. 100% of students (6 out of 6) strongly agreed that the labs were worthwhile and contributed to the course, while only 83.3% of students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Overall, I am satisfied with what I learned in this course.�

Conclusion: Hands-on interactive treatment planning labs using a commercial brachytherapy treatment planning system improved the learning experience for graduate students in medical physics, as evidenced by their course evaluations.


Brachytherapy, Treatment Planning


Education: Application

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