Vol 26, No 2 (2021)
Research paper
Published online: 2021-03-04

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A three-dimensional printed customized bolus: adapting to the shape of the outer ear

Gorka Gomez1, Montserrat Baeza2, Juan Carlos Mateos3, Jose Antonio Rivas2, Florencio Javier Luis Simon2, Diego Mesta Ortega4, María de los Ángeles Flores Carrión5, Eleonor Rivin del Campo6, Tomas Gómez-Cía78, Jose Luis Lopez Guerra47
Rep Pract Oncol Radiother 2021;26(2):211-217.


Background: The skin-sparing effect of megavoltage-photon beams in radiotherapy (RT) reduces the target coverage of superficial tumours. Consequently, a bolus is widely used to enhance the target coverage for superficial targets. This study evaluates a three-dimensional (3D)-printed customized bolus for a very irregular surface, the outer ear.

Materials and methods: We fabricated a bolus using a computed tomography (CT) scanner and evaluated its efficacy. The head of an Alderson Rando phantom was scanned with a CT scanner. Two 3D boluses of 5- and 10-mm thickness were designed to fit on the surface of the ear. They were printed by the Stratasys Objet260 Connex3 using the malleable “rubber-like” photopolymer Agilus. CT simulations of the Rando phantom with and without the 3D and commercial high density boluses were performed to evaluate the dosimetric properties of the 3D bolus. The prescription dose to the outer ear was 50 Gy at 2 Gy/fraction.

Results: We observed that the target coverage was slightly better with the 3D bolus of 10 mm compared with the commercial one (D98% 98.2% vs. 97.6%).The maximum dose was reduced by 6.6% with the 3D bolus and the minimum dose increased by 5.2% when comparing with the commercial bolus. In addition, the homogeneity index was better for the 3D bolus (0.041 vs. 0.073).

Conclusion: We successfully fabricated a customized 3D bolus for a very irregular surface. The target coverage and dosimetric parameters were at least comparable with a commercial bolus. Thus, the use of malleable materials can be considered for the fabrication of customized boluses in cases with complex anatomy.

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