The introduction of functional data into the radiotherapy treatment planning process is currently the focus of significant commercial, technical, scientific and clinical development. The potential of such data from positron emission tomography (PET) was recognized at an early stage and was integrated into the radiotherapy treatment planning process through the use of image fusion software. The combination of PET and CT in a single system (PET/CT) to form an inherently fused anatomical and functional dataset has provided an imaging modality which could be used as the prime tool in the delineation of tumour volumes and the preparation of patient treatment plans, especially when integrated with virtual simulation. PET imaging typically using F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (F-FDG) can provide data on metabolically active tumour volumes. These functional data have the potential to modify treatment volumes and to guide treatment delivery to cells with particular metabolic characteristics. This paper reviews the current status of the integration of PET and PET/CT data into the radiotherapy treatment process. Consideration is given to the requirements of PET/CT data acquisition with reference to patient positioning aids and the limitations imposed by the PET/CT system. It also reviews the approaches being taken to the definition of functional/ tumour volumes and the mechanisms available to measure and include physiological motion into the imaging process. The use of PET data must be based upon a clear understanding of the interpretation and limitations of the functional signal. Protocols for the implementation of this development remain to be defined, and outcomes data based upon clinical trials are still awaited. © 2006 The British Institute of Radiology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging