Development of a PTV margin for preclinical irradiation of orthotopic pancreatic tumors derived from a well-known recipe for humans

Severin Kampfer, Sophie Dobiasch, Stephanie E. Combs, Jan J. Wilkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In human radiotherapy a safety margin (PTV margin) is essential for successful irradiation and is usually part of clinical treatment planning. In preclinical radiotherapy research with small animals, most uncertainties and inaccuracies are present as well, but according to the literature a margin is used only scarcely. In addition, there is only little experience about the appropriate size of the margin, which should carefully be investigated and considered, since sparing of organs at risk or normal tissue is affected. Here we estimate the needed margin for preclinical irradiation by adapting a well-known human margin recipe from van Herck et al. to the dimensions and requirements of the specimen on a small animal radiation research platform (SARRP). We adjusted the factors of the described formula to the specific challenges in an orthotopic pancreatic tumor mouse model to establish an appropriate margin concept. The SARRP was used with its image-guidance irradiation possibility for arc irradiation with a field size of 10 × 10 mm2 for 5 fractions. Our goal was to irradiate the clinical target volume (CTV) of at least 90% of our mice with at least 95% of the prescribed dose. By carefully analyzing all relevant factors we gain a CTV to planning target volume (PTV) margin of 1.5 mm for our preclinical setup. The stated safety margin is strongly dependent on the exact setting of the experiment and has to be adjusted for other experimental settings. The few stated values in literature correspond well to our result. Even if using margins in the preclinical setting might be an additional challenge, we think it is crucial to use them to produce reliable results and improve the efficacy of radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalZeitschrift fur Medizinische Physik
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • CTV to PTV margin
  • Image-guided high-precision radiation
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Preclinical tumor mouse model
  • Small-animal radiation research platform
  • Translational research


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