Surface Monitoring Technology to Remove The Mask - Stage 1

2020-02-16 17:40:46 | BioPortfolio


A pilot-stage device feasibility study investigating a mask-free patient immobilisation system for use during radiation therapy treatment of head and neck cancer (HNC). This mask-free patient immobilisation system combines a head rest to help the patient remain still with a surface guidance detection system that uses sensors to detect patient movement.

Patients previously treated for head and neck cancer with radiation therapy that involved using a mask will be asked to lie on the treatment couch for the normal treatment fraction time while the surface monitoring system is activated. We will then assess:

i) The level of acceptance by previously treated HNC patients, and ii) The ability of the surface guidance detecting equipment to monitor movement of the patients


Radiation therapy (RT) is a central treatment modality for 74% of head and neck cancer (HNC) patients where preservation of the form and function of localised organs and tissue is of prime importance. Radiation therapy offers the possibility of organ preservation by providing a non-surgical approach to curative treatment, while helping to limit the extent of surgery in cases where definitive surgery is unavoidable. Radiation therapy also has an important role in maintaining quality of life in the palliative management of incurable HNC, where it can prevent and alleviate pain, bleeding, tumour fungation and difficulty with swallowing, breathing and speech.

State-of-the-art RT for HNC delivers lethal radiation doses to the cancer while sparing vital organs situated just a few millimetres away. To achieve this level of accuracy, tight-fitting thermoplastic head and neck masks are used to immobilise the patient in the desired treatment position for the duration of each of their RT treatments. These thermoplastic immobilisation devices are accepted internationally as the necessary standard and included in published guidelines. Open masks are an emerging immobilisation measure and a first step to reduce patient discomfort and anxiety. An open mask has a smaller visual restriction and fewer restraint points.

Although, thermoplastic immobilisation masks are the accepted clinical standard for HNC RT, it is widely recognised and acknowledged that there are several limitations with their use. Changes to the mask's fit may be needed due to patient weight loss, tumour shrinkage, or treatment related oedema. Thus, radiation therapists are required to monitor the mask for fit throughout the treatment course, undertake imaging at regular intervals and make corrections as per published guidelines and local protocols. There is also risk of movement of the patient within the mask, which may lead to under dosing of the target and overdosing of organs at risk. Court et al. reported that patients in their study needed to be repositioned in the immobilisation mask before treatment for 14% of fractions; 30% of the repositioning was for shoulder shifts of 1 cm or greater. Neubauer et al. observed shoulder motion of 2-5 mm in each direction on average (20 mm max). These shifts resulted in coverage loss (dose to 99% of the clinical target volume decreased by up to 1Gy) or increased dose to organs at risk (e.g., dose to brachial plexus increased by 0.7Gy).

The ACRF Image X Institute at the University of Sydney has developed a novel surface guidance system, 'Breathe Well', that can be mounted to any RT imaging and treatment couch. This system is currently being used in two clinical trials to guide breast cancer patients into a reproducible breath hold: the patient's chest position is measured via surface imaging and the system delivers visual feedback to the patient via a screen for the patient to correct their breath hold level if necessary (i.e., surface guidance). 'Breathe Well' uses off-the-shelf electronics, most importantly a sensor which includes an optical and a depth camera, delivering frames at a rate of 30Hz and allowing the patient and operator to see an augmented reality video feed, including the surface depth information.

We will adapt the Breathe Well system for head and neck surface monitoring by integrating an additional sensor and adapting it to the different location of treatment

Pilot-stage, single-arm study investigating the technical feasibility and patient acceptance of a non-interventional, non-invasive, mask-free surface detection system.

Twenty people who have previously been treated for HNC with RT using a head mask will be asked to lie in a treatment position for the normal amount of time taken for individual radiation therapy treatments (20 minutes) while a mask-free surface detection system detects and records their location and movement. Data collected by the surface detection system will be analysed to determine the feasibility of using the equipment to detect location and movement over this period, and patients will be asked to complete surveys before and after the session to report their anxiety and comfort.

Study Design


Head and Neck Cancer


Mask-free surface monitoring


Blacktown Hospital
New South Wales


Not yet recruiting


University of Sydney

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2020-02-16T17:40:46-0500

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