MR-guided high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy has gained increasing interest as a treatment for patients with localized prostate cancer because of the superior value of MRI for tumor and surrounding tissues localization. To enable needle insertion into the prostate with the patient in the MR bore, a single needle MR-compatible robotic system involving needle-by-needle dose delivery has been developed at our institution. Throughout the intervention, dose delivery may be impaired by: (1) sub-optimal needle positioning caused by e.g. needle bending, (2) intra-operative internal organ motion such as prostate rotations or swelling, or intra-procedural rectum or bladder filling. This may result in failure to reach clinical constraints. To assess the first aforementioned challenge, a recent study from our research group demonstrated that the deposited dose may be greatly improved by real-time adaptive planning with feedback on the actual needle positioning. However, the needle insertion sequence is left to the doctor and therefore, this may result in sub-optimal dose delivery. In this manuscript, a new method is proposed to determine and update automatically the needle insertion sequence. This strategy is based on the determination of the most sensitive needle track. The sensitivity of a needle track is defined as its impact on the dose distribution in case of suboptimal positioning. A stochastic criterion is thus presented to determine each needle track sensitivity based on needle insertion simulations. To assess the proposed sequencing strategy, HDR prostate brachytherapy was simulated on 11 patients with varying number of needle insertions. Sub-optimal needle positioning was simulated at each insertion (modeled by typical random angulation errors). In 91% of the scenarios, the dose distribution improved when the needle was inserted into the most compared to the least sensitive needle track. The computation time for sequencing was less than 6 s per needle track. The proposed needle insertion sequencing can therefore assist in delivering an optimal dose in HDR prostate brachytherapy.

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