In brachytherapy we work towards improved dose delivery by developing advanced (Monte Carlo) dose calculations, verification and imaging, as well as novel applicators. One such applicator developed at Maastro (patent pending) will allow the treatment of rectal tumors with 192Ir HDR brachytherapy sources. Maastro is pushing the boundaries in brachytherapy, being one of the first centers to use robotic arms to improve measurement accuracy and precision. Our center is developing a novel system that uses imaging panels for time-resolved dosimetry and treatment verification and safety.
Dose guided radiotherapy (DGRT)
The aim of DGRT is accurate measurement of the true dose delivered to the patient. The 2D and 3D in-vivo dose verification checks the actual dose delivered to the patient before and during treatment using the exit-dose electronic portal imaging device (EPID) measurement. Artificial intelligence methods are used to create decision models for adaptive radiotherapy using DGRT.
Dual-energy CT (DECT)
This research line concerns a novel imaging technique, to obtain more detailed information about patient anatomy and tissue compositions, which is needed for accurate dose calculations. At Maastro we have two state of the art DECT scanners. Research is performed on imaging and dose calculation accuracy, as well as on automatic contouring.
The Maastro affiliated proton radiotherapy clinic has a state of the art synchrocyclotron (Mevion) for proton therapy, with advanced beam shaping capabilities, robotic couch, real-time patient tracking system, and integrated dual-energy CBCT imaging. Although the installation is recent (fall 2018), Maastro is known worldwide for its research in proton therapy that started more than a decade ago. The research possibilities with the current hardware available are numerous and we will focus on improving treatment planning and beam delivery. Our main lines of research include accurate dose calculation (state of art imaging (DECT) and Monte Carlo dose calculation), and patient and tumor tracking (in room imaging and 3D tracking system).
Small animal radiotherapy
We developed a novel research platform for the treatment of small animals. With an integrated image guidance and precision irradiation system at our disposal, we can use dual-energy cone-beam CT, fluoroscopy and bioluminescence imaging techniques and treat small animals using our dedicated treatment planning system with millimetric radiation beams. We have developed methods for improved imaging and irradiation and collaborated with numerous multidisciplinary studies.
We are also investigating the use of 3D ultrasound imaging for treatment verification. In ultrasound we work with state of the art technology (robotic arms, 3D tracking system, 3D ultrasound probes and artificial intelligence for image processing) to perform real time tumor tracking in radiotherapy. This technology will account for target motion allowing treatment adaptation in real time maximizing the dose to the tumor whilst reducing the dose to organs at risk.