Abstract
During respiratorygated radiotherapy (RGRT), gate on and off latencies cause deviations of gating windows, possibly leading to delivery of low and highdose radiations to tumors and normal tissues, respectively. Currently, there are no RGRT systems that have definite tools to compensate for the delays. To address the problem, we propose a framework consisting of two steps: (1) multistepahead prediction and (2) predictionbased gating. For each step, we have devised a specific algorithm to accomplish the task. Numerical experiments were performed using respiratory signals of a phantom and ten volunteers, and our predictionbased RGRT system exhibited superior performance in more than a few signal samples. In some, however, signal prediction and predictionbased gating did not work well, maybe due to signal irregularity and/or baseline drift. The proposed approach has potential applicability in RGRT, and further studies are needed to verify and refine the constituent algorithms.
1. Introduction
Respiratorygated radiotherapy (RGRT) is a widely employed means of treating tumors that move with respiration [1–3]. In RGRT, radiation is administered within particular phases of the patient’s breathing cycle (called as gating windows), which are determined by monitoring respiratory motion in the form of a respiratory signal using either external or internal markers. Note that, although there are some options for RGRT (e.g., whether to choose amplitudebased or phasebased gating and whether to gate during inhalation or exhalation), this study focuses only on amplitudebased gating during exhalation, which is a common setting in clinical practice. Several RGRT systems have been developed, and some take considerable time from the detection of a signal change to the execution of a gate on/off command (Table 1). The gate on/off latency causes deviations of gating windows in conventional RGRT (Figure 1), possibly leading to delivery of low and highdose radiation to tumor and normal tissues, respectively. At present, there are no RGRT systems that have definite techniques to compensate for the delays. Therefore, here, we propose a predictionbased system to address the problem.
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This paper is organized as follows. The devised framework is described in Section 2, experimental results are in Section 3, and the conclusions follow in Section 4.
2. Methods
In this section, we describe our new approach to compensate for gate on/off latency. This consists of two steps: (1) multistepahead prediction and (2) predictionbased gating.
2.1. MultistepAhead Prediction
Several prediction algorithms for respiratory signals have been proposed, and most of them adopt singleoutput strategies [7, 8]. However, in our framework, multipleoutput multistepahead prediction is required. Therefore, we have devised an algorithm for this purpose.
A respiratory signal is regarded as a sequenceof equally spaced timeseries observations in a space , with a time interval of seconds (s), where . Let and be positive integers. For each time point , multistepahead prediction aims to forecast the tuple of subsequent observations, given the previous ntuple . Hence, our goal here is to form a predictor mapping on to . Suppose is a metric space with a metric . Let us have a learning set , where i ranges over some finite totally ordered set (see Section 2.3 for an example of the learning set preparation). Then, for a test tuple , we predict the next tuple aswhere is the largest index such that for all . Throughout this paper, we suppose that , and , which equals (), is a real space with the Euclidean metric, i.e.,
2.2. PredictionBased RGRT
Let () be the current observation, be a gating threshold, and and be the numbers of time points corresponding to gate on and off delays, respectively. Given learning sets and (see Section 2.3 for an example of the learning set construction), the function defined below is used for a predictionbased gating.(1)Case :(2)Case :where (the set of integers) is defined byand . Note that denotes the signum function, i.e.,
In our predictionbased RGRT system (pRGRT), gate on command is sent if , while gate off command is sent if .
2.3. Construction of a Learning Set
To begin with, a respiratory signal tuple is smoothed using the finite Fourier transform [9]. In detail, the mapping defined below is applied for the smoothing.where is the finite Fourier transform on (a complex Nspace) defined bywhile its inverse is given by
is defined by
while its inverse is given by
is defined by
and is by
Note that W defined above is called the Hamming window [10]. The parameter can be set freely, e.g., we setto filter out signal components with frequencies larger than f hertz (Hz).
For a signal tuple ,is called the smoothed signal tuple and used to construct a learning set () by putting
for .
3. Numerical Results and Discussion
To validate the devised algorithms, respiratory signals of a dynamic thoracic phantom (CIRS, Virginia, USA) and ten healthy volunteers were measured with Abches (APEX Medical, Inc., Tokyo, Japan), which is a respirationmonitoring device developed by Onishi et al. [11] and routinely used in our university hospital. Note that, for simplicity, we supposed that although the actual time intervals were not precisely equal to 0.03 s. Signal values were given in the unit of mm.
3.1. Smoothing of a Respiratory Signal
To test the algorithm of smoothing a respiratory signal, the phantom’s signal was measured for 20 s (667 time points) and an artificial noise was added (13.65–13.7 s), forming a signal tuple . Then was calculated (Equations (8a)–(8d)), setting to filter out high frequency ( Hz) components. As shown in Figure 2, we succeeded in removing noisy components of .
3.2. Prediction of a Respiratory Signal
The prediction algorithm was tested using respiratory signals of ten volunteers, measured for 300 s (10000 time points) (Figure 3). For each time point of a signal sample, observations during the past 120 s (4000 points) were used to construct a learning set and a predictor is formed to forecast the next 0.3 s (10 points) given the previous 3 s (100 points). In detail, let , , , and denote a signal sample, where . For each , the signal tuple was used to construct a learning set as in Section 2.3. Then, was calculated (Section 2.1), where . To evaluate the prediction accuracy, the mth coordinate of , denoted as , was compared with the corresponding actual observation . In accordance with the previous studies of predicting respiratory motion [7], the root mean square error (RMSE) (mm)was calculated as an indicator of prediction error (Figure 4). The signal samples with RMSE less than 1.5 mm appeared to be well predictable by our approach (Figure 5), while some of the others appeared not to (Figure 6). Hence, the former samples numbered 0, 1, 2, 7, and 8 were selected for the next experiment.
3.3. PredictionBased RGRT
Our predictionbased gating system, pRGRT, was tested using the selected five signal samples. In the following experiment, gate on and off delays were set to be 0.336 s and 0.088 s, respectively, in accordance with the Abches system (Table 1). For each time point of a sample , the signal tuple was used to construct learning sets and as in Section 2.3, where (300 s), (120 s), (3 s), (0.336 s), and (0.088 s). We put and as in Algorithm 1 and Algorithm 2, respectively, where β was fixed to the median of .


For , we assumed that gate on command is executed at j,(i)if and only if (in conventional RGRT).(ii)if and only if (in pRGRT).
In each of the RGRT simulations, let be the set of at which gate on command is executed, and put . To quantify possibly inappropriate irradiation during RGRT, the valuewas calculated and denoted as nErr (normalized error), whose unit is mm. Here, represents the characteristic function of a set S defined as, and . Schematic illustrations of nErr and pRGRT are shown in Figure 7. As a result, nErr values for four out of the five samples decreased in pRGRT (Figure 8). Regarding the four samples, gating window shifts observed in conventional RGRT appeared to be improved in pRGRT (Figure 9). As for the other sample (numbered 8), considerable baseline drift was observed (Figure 10), which is an undesirable feature for gating systems with fixed threshold [12].
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The above are cases where . To see whether pRGRT works when , similar simulations were performed with gate on and off delays being 0.356 s () and 0.529 s (), respectively, in accordance with the the AlignRT system (Table 1). The outcome was that nErr values for all the samples decreased in pRGRT (Figure 11) and gating window shifts in conventional RGRT were ameliorated in pRGRT (Figure 12).
4. Conclusions
In this paper, we proposed a framework to compensate for gate on/off latency during RGRT. It consisted of two steps: (1) multistepahead prediction and (2) predictionbased gating. For each step, we devised a specific algorithm to accomplish the task. Numerical experiments were performed using respiratory signals of a phantom and ten volunteers, and our predictionbased RGRT system, pRGRT, displayed superior performance in not a few of the signal samples. In some, however, signal prediction and predictionbased gating did not work well, probably because of signal irregularity and/or baseline drift.
The developed method has potential applicability in RGRT, but there are several issues to be addressed, e.g.,(1)Are there better algorithms for multistepahead prediction?(2)Are there better algorithms for predictionbased gating?(3)Is it possible to deal with baseline drift?(4)Is it possible to provide theoretical foundations to the methods?(5)Is the method valid in a real clinical setting?
Further studies on these matters would be needed for the system to be of practical use.
Data Availability
The respiratory signal data used in the current study are available in the Figshare repository (https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.6290924).
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Acknowledgments
This work was funded by APEX Medical, Inc. (Tokyo, Japan). We would like to thank Kazunori Nakamoto (University of Yamanashi) for carefully proofreading a draft of this paper. We are grateful to Editage (http://www.editage.jp) for English language editing.