Bijman R, et al. Acta Oncol 2020.
Background and purpose: In this study we developed a workflow for fully-automated generation of deliverable IMRT plans for a 1.5 T MR-Linac (MRL) based on contoured CT scans, and we evaluated automated MRL planning for rectal cancer.Methods: The Monte Carlo dose calculation engine used in the clinical MRL TPS (Monaco, Elekta AB, Stockholm, Sweden), suited for high accuracy dose calculations in a 1.5 T magnetic field, was coupled to our in-house developed Erasmus-iCycle optimizer. Clinically deliverable plans for 23 rectal cancer patients were automatically generated in a two-step process, i.e., multi-criterial fluence map optimization with Erasmus-iCycle followed by a conversion into a deliverable IMRT plan in the clinical TPS. Automatically generated plans (AUTOplans) were compared to plans that were manually generated with the clinical TPS (MANplans).Results: With AUTOplanning large reductions in planning time and workload were obtained; 4-6 h mainly hands-on planning for MANplans vs ∼1 h of mainly computer computation time for AUTOplans. For equal target coverage, the bladder and bowel bag Dmean was reduced in the AUTOplans by 1.3 Gy (6.9%) on average with a maximum reduction of 4.5 Gy (23.8%). Dosimetric measurements at the MRL demonstrated clinically acceptable delivery accuracy for the AUTOplans.Conclusions: A system for fully automated multi-criterial planning for a 1.5 T MR-Linac was developed and tested for rectal cancer patients. Automated planning resulted in major reductions in planning workload and time, while plan quality improved. Negative impact of the high magnetic field on the dose distributions could be avoided.