International journal of radiation oncology biology physics vol:33 issue:2 pages:499-507
PURPOSE: Two widely used immobilization systems for head fixation during radiotherapy treatment for ear-nose-throat (ENT) tumors are evaluated. METHODS AND MATERIALS: Masks made of poly vinyl-chloride (plastic) are compared to thermoplastic masks (Orfit) with respect to the accuracy of the treatment setup and the costs. For both types of material, a cut-out (windows corresponding to treatment fields) and a full mask (not cut out) are considered. Forty-three patients treated for ENT tumors were randomized into four groups, to be fixed by one of the following modalities: cut-out plastic mask (12 patients), full plastic mask (11 patients), cut-out Orfit mask (10 patients), and full Orfit mask (10 patients). RESULTS: Reproducibility of the treatment setup was assessed by calculating the deviations from the mean value for each individual patient and was demonstrated to be identical for all subgroups: no differences were demonstrated between the plastic (s = 2.1 mm) and the Orfit (s = 2.1 mm) group nor between the cut-out (s = 2.0 mm) and not cut-out (s = 2.1 mm) group. The transfer chain from similar to treatment unit was checked by comparing portal images to their respective simulation image, and no differences between the four subgroups (s = +/- 3.5 mm) could be detected. A methodology was described to compare the costs of both types of masks, and illustrated with the data for a department. It was found that Orfit masks are a cheaper alternative than plastic masks; they require much less investment expenses and the workload and material cost of the first mask for each patient is also lower. Cut-out masks are more expensive than full masks, because of the higher workload and the additional material required for second and third masks that are required in case of field modifications. CONCLUSIONS: No substantial difference in patient setup accuracy between both types of masks was detected, and cutting out the masks had no impact on the fixing capabilities. A first Orfit mask will typically be a cheaper alternative than a plastic mask for most departments (lower fixed and variable costs). The higher material cost of the subsequent Orfit masks, compared to the plastic masks, offset the lower investment expenses.