Temperature simulations in hyperthermia treatment planning of the head and neck region: rigorous optimization of tissue properties

René F. Verhaart, Zef Rijnen, Valerio Fortunati, Gerda M. Verduijn, Theo van Walsum, Jifke F. Veenland, Margarethus M. Paulides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Hyperthermia treatment planning (HTP) is used in the head and neck region (H&N) for pretreatment optimization, decision making, and real-time HTP-guided adaptive application of hyperthermia. In current clinical practice, HTP is based on power-absorption predictions, but thermal dose-effect relationships advocate its extension to temperature predictions. Exploitation of temperature simulations requires region- and temperature-specific thermal tissue properties due to the strong thermoregulatory response of H&N tissues. The purpose of our work was to develop a technique for patient group-specific optimization of thermal tissue properties based on invasively measured temperatures, and to evaluate the accuracy achievable.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data from 17 treated patients were used to optimize the perfusion and thermal conductivity values for the Pennes bioheat equation-based thermal model. A leave-one-out approach was applied to accurately assess the difference between measured and simulated temperature (∆T). The improvement in ∆T for optimized thermal property values was assessed by comparison with the ∆T for values from the literature, i.e., baseline and under thermal stress.

RESULTS: The optimized perfusion and conductivity values of tumor, muscle, and fat led to an improvement in simulation accuracy (∆T: 2.1 ± 1.2 °C) compared with the accuracy for baseline (∆T: 12.7 ± 11.1 °C) or thermal stress (∆T: 4.4 ± 3.5 °C) property values.

CONCLUSION: The presented technique leads to patient group-specific temperature property values that effectively improve simulation accuracy for the challenging H&N region, thereby making simulations an elegant addition to invasive measurements. The rigorous leave-one-out assessment indicates that improvements in accuracy are required to rely only on temperature-based HTP in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1124
Number of pages8
JournalStrahlentherapie und Onkologie
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Algorithms
  • Computer Simulation
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms/physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced/methods
  • Models, Biological
  • Patient-Specific Modeling
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted/methods
  • Thermal Conductivity
  • Thermography/methods
  • Treatment Outcome


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