Andrew Shepard, PhD 2018

Andrew Shepard, PhD

Assistant Professor (CHS)

Department Of Human Oncology

2020 Physics Residency Alumnus


Residency, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Therapeutic Medical Physics (2020)

Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, PhD (2018)

Nuclear Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, BS (1015)

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor (CHS), Human Oncology (2023)

Selected Honors and Awards

Standard Imaging Travel Award (2017)

AAPM Summer Undergraduate Fellowship (2013)

Research Focus

Motion management, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)

  • First-in-human imaging using a MR-compatible e4D ultrasound probe for motion management of radiotherapy Physica medica : PM : an international journal devoted to the applications of physics to medicine and biology : official journal of the Italian Association of Biomedical Physics (AIFB)
    Bednarz BP, Jupitz S, Lee W, Mills D, Chan H, Fiorillo T, Sabitini J, Shoudy D, Patel A, Mitra J, Sarcar S, Wang B, Shepard A, Matrosic C, Holmes J, Culberson W, Bassetti M, Hill P, McMillan A, Zagzebski J, Smith LS, Foo TK
    2021 Aug;88:104-110. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmp.2021.06.017. Epub 2021 Jul 1.
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      PURPOSE: Respiration-induced tumor or organ positional changes can impact the accuracy of external beam radiotherapy. Motion management strategies are used to account for these changes during treatment. The authors report on the development, testing, and first-in-human evaluation of an electronic 4D (e4D) MR-compatible ultrasound probe that was designed for hands-free operation in a MR and linear accelerator (LINAC) environment.

      METHODS: Ultrasound components were evaluated for MR compatibility. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding was used to enclose the entire probe and a factory-fabricated cable shielded with copper braids was integrated into the probe. A series of simultaneous ultrasound and MR scans were acquired and analyzed in five healthy volunteers.

      RESULTS: The ultrasound probe led to minor susceptibility artifacts in the MR images immediately proximal to the ultrasound probe at a depth of <10 mm. Ultrasound and MR-based motion traces that were derived by tracking the salient motion of endogenous target structures in the superior-inferior (SI) direction demonstrated good concordance (Pearson correlation coefficients of 0.95-0.98) between the ultrasound and MRI datasets.

      CONCLUSION: We have demonstrated that our hands-free, e4D probe can acquire ultrasound images during a MR acquisition at frame rates of approximately 4 frames per second (fps) without impacting either the MR or ultrasound image quality. This use of this technology for interventional procedures (e.g. biopsies and drug delivery) and motion compensation during imaging are also being explored.

      PMID:34218199 | PMC:PMC8403156 | DOI:10.1016/j.ejmp.2021.06.017

      View details for PubMedID 34218199
  • 3D dosimetric validation of ultrasound-guided radiotherapy with a dynamically deformable abdominal phantom Physica medica : PM : an international journal devoted to the applications of physics to medicine and biology : official journal of the Italian Association of Biomedical Physics (AIFB)
    Matrosic CK, Culberson W, Shepard A, Jupitz S, Bednarz B
    2021 Apr;84:159-167. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmp.2021.04.007. Epub 2021 Apr 23.
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      OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to dosimetrically benchmark gel dosimetry measurements in a dynamically deformable abdominal phantom for intrafraction image guidance through a multi-dosimeter comparison. Once benchmarked, the study aimed to perform a proof-of-principle study for validation measurements of an ultrasound image-guided radiotherapy delivery system.

      METHODS: The phantom was dosimetrically benchmarked by delivering a liver VMAT plan and measuring the 3D dose distribution with DEFGEL dosimeters. Measured doses were compared to the treatment planning system and measurements acquired with radiochromic film and an ion chamber. The ultrasound image guidance validation was performed for a hands-free ultrasound transducer for the tracking of liver motion during treatment.

      RESULTS: Gel dosimeters were compared to the TPS and film measurements, showing good qualitative dose distribution matches, low γ values through most of the high dose region, and average 3%/5 mm γ-analysis pass rates of 99.2%(0.8%) and 90.1%(0.8%), respectively. Gel dosimeter measurements matched ion chamber measurements within 3%. The image guidance validation study showed the measurement of the treatment delivery improvements due to the inclusion of the ultrasound image guidance system. Good qualitative matching of dose distributions and improvements of the γ-analysis results were observed for the ultrasound-gated dosimeter compared to the ungated dosimeter.

      CONCLUSIONS: DEFGEL dosimeters in phantom showed good agreement with the planned dose and other dosimeters for dosimetric benchmarking. Ultrasound image guidance validation measurements showed good proof-of-principle of the utility of the phantom system as a method of validating ultrasound-based image guidance systems and potentially other image guidance methods.

      PMID:33901860 | PMC:PMC8216233 | DOI:10.1016/j.ejmp.2021.04.007

      View details for PubMedID 33901860
  • Characteristics and limitations of a secondary dose check software for VMAT plan calculation Journal of applied clinical medical physics
    Shepard AJ, Frigo SP
    2021 Mar;22(3):216-223. doi: 10.1002/acm2.13206. Epub 2021 Mar 5.
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      PURPOSE: To assess the implementation, accuracy, and validity of the dosimetric leaf gap correction (DLGC) in Mobius3D VMAT plan calculations.

      METHODS: The optimal Mobius3D DLGC was determined for both a TrueBeam with a Millennium multi-leaf collimator and a TrueBeamSTx with a high-definition multi-leaf collimator. By analyzing a broad series of seven VMAT plans and comparing the calculated to the measured dose delivered to a cylindrical phantom, optimal DLGC values were determined by minimizing the dose difference for both the collection of all plans, as well as for each plan individually. The effects of plan removal from the optimization of the collective DLGC value, as well as plan-specific DLGC values, were explored to determine the impact of plan suite design on the final DLGC determination.

      RESULTS: Optimal collective DLGC values across all energies were between -0.71 and 0.89 mm for the TrueBeam, and between 0.35 and 1.85 mm for the TrueBeamSTx. The dose differences ranged between -6.1% and 2.6% across all plans when the optimal collective DLGC values were used. On a per-plan basis, the plan-specific optimal DLGC values ranged from -4.36 to 2.35 mm for the TrueBeam, and between -1.83 and 2.62 mm for the TrueBeamSTx. Comparing the plan-specific optimal DLGC to the average absolute leaf position from the central axis for each plan, a negative correlation was observed.

      CONCLUSIONS: The optimal DLGC determination depends on the plans investigated, making it essential for users to utilize a suite of test plans that encompasses the full range of expected clinical plans when determining the optimal DLGC value. Validation of the secondary dose calculation should always be based on measurements, and not a comparison with the primary TPS. Varying disagreement with measurements across plans for a single DLGC value indicates potential limitations in the Mobius3D MLC model.

      PMID:33666339 | PMC:PMC7984465 | DOI:10.1002/acm2.13206

      View details for PubMedID 33666339
  • The quantification and potential impact of dark current on treatments with an MR-guided radiotherapy (MRgRT) system Journal of applied clinical medical physics
    Shepard AJ, Mittauer KE, Bayouth JE, Yadav P
    2020 Dec;21(12):54-61. doi: 10.1002/acm2.13059. Epub 2020 Oct 29.
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      PURPOSE: Dark current radiation produced during linac beam-hold has the potential to lead to unplanned dose delivered to the patient. With the increased usage of motion management and step-and-shoot IMRT deliveries for MR-guided systems leading to increased beam-hold time, it is necessary to consider the impact of dark current radiation on patient treatments.

      METHODS: The relative dose rate due to dark current for the ViewRay MRIdian linac was measured longitudinally over 15 months (June 2018-August 2019). Ion chamber measurements were acquired with the linac in the beam-hold state and the beam-on state, with the ratio representing the relative dark current dose rate. The potential contribution of the dark current dose to the overall prescription was retrospectively analyzed for 972 fractions from 83 patients over the same time period. The amount of time spent in the beam-hold state was combined with the monthly measured relative dark current dose rate to estimate the dark current dose contribution.

      RESULTS: The relative dark current dose rate compared to the beam-on dose rate was 0.12% ± 0.027%. In a near worst-case estimation, the dark current dose contribution accounted for 0.90% ± 0.67% of the prescription dose across all fractions (3.61% maximum). Gantry and MLC motion between segments accounted for 87% of the dark current contribution, with the remaining 13% attributable to gating during segment delivery. The largest dark current contributions were associated with plans delivering a small dose per treatment segment.

      CONCLUSIONS: The dark current associated with new clinical treatment units should be considered prior to treatment delivery to ensure it will not lead to dosimetric inaccuracies. For the MRIdian linac system investigated in this work, the contribution from dark current remained relatively low, though users should be cognizant of the larger potential dosimetric contribution for plans with small doses per segment.

      PMID:33119933 | PMC:PMC7769391 | DOI:10.1002/acm2.13059

      View details for PubMedID 33119933
  • Investigation of tumor and vessel motion correlation in the liver Journal of applied clinical medical physics
    Jupitz SA, Shepard AJ, Hill PM, Bednarz BP
    2020 Aug;21(8):183-190. doi: 10.1002/acm2.12943. Epub 2020 Jun 13.
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      Intrafraction imaging-based motion management systems for external beam radiotherapy can rely on internal surrogate structures when the target is not easily visualized. This work evaluated the validity of using liver vessels as internal surrogates for the estimation of liver tumor motion. Vessel and tumor motion were assessed using ten two-dimensional sagittal MR cine datasets collected on the ViewRay MRIdian. For each case, a liver tumor and at least one vessel were tracked for 175 s. A tracking approach utilizing block matching and multiple simultaneous templates was applied. Accuracy of the tracked motion was calculated from the error between the tracked centroid position and manually defined ground truth annotations. The patient's abdomen surface and diaphragm were manually annotated in all frames. The Pearson correlation coefficient (CC) was used to compare the motion of the features and tumor in the anterior-posterior (AP) and superior-inferior (SI) directions. The distance between the centroids of the features and the tumors was calculated to assess if feature proximity affects relative correlation, and the tumor range of motion was determined. Intra- and interfraction motion amplitude variabilities were evaluated to further assess the relationship between tumor and feature motion. The mean CC between the motion of the vessel and the tumor were 0.85 ± 0.11 (AP) and 0.92 ± 0.04 (SI), 0.83 ± 0.11 (AP) and -0.89 ± 0.06 (SI) for the surface and tumor, and 0.80 ± 0.17 (AP) and 0.94 ± 0.03 (SI) for the diaphragm and tumor. For intrafraction analysis, the average amplitude variability was 2.47 ± 0.77 mm (AP) and 3.14 ± 1.49 mm (SI) for the vessels, 2.70 ± 1.08 mm (AP) and 3.43 ± 1.73 mm (SI) for the surface, and 2.76 ± 1.41 mm (AP) and 2.91 ± 1.38 mm (SI) for the diaphragm. No relationship between distance and motion correlation was observed. The motion of liver tumors and liver vessels was well correlated, making vessels a suitable surrogate for tumor motion in the liver.

      PMID:32533758 | PMC:PMC7484818 | DOI:10.1002/acm2.12943

      View details for PubMedID 32533758
  • Technical Note: Characterization of clinical linear accelerator triggering latency for motion management system development Medical physics
    Shepard AJ, Matrosic CK, Radtke JL, Jupitz SA, Culberson WS, Bednarz BP
    2018 Nov;45(11):4816-4821. doi: 10.1002/mp.13191. Epub 2018 Oct 10.
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      PURPOSE: Latencies for motion management systems have previously been presented as guidelines for system development and implementation. These guidelines consider the overall system latency, including data acquisition, algorithm processing, and linac triggering time. However, during system development, the triggering latency of the clinical linear accelerator is often considered fixed. This paper presents a method to decouple the linac-only triggering latency from the total system latency such that latency can be considered in terms of only the linac-independent aspects of the system.

      METHODS: The linac-only latency was investigated by considering the time at which a linac response was observed relative to the time at which a beam-on/off triggering signal was sent to the linac. The relative time between the two signals was analyzed using a multichannel oscilloscope with input signals from a custom gating box to manually trigger the beam state as well as a diode positioned at beam isocenter to monitor the linac response. The beam-on/off latency was measured at multiple energies (6/18 MV) and repetition rates (100-600 MU/min) to investigate beam setting dependencies.

      RESULTS: The measured latency was observed to be dependent on the accelerator settings for repetition rate and energy, with beam-on latencies decreasing with increasing repetition rate and decreasing energy. In contrast, the opposite trend was present for the observed beam-off latency. At 600 MU/min, beam-on/off latencies were observed to be 3.37/1.45 ms for a 6 MV beam and 6.02/0.73 ms for an 18 MV beam. Negative latencies were possible for beam-off measurements due to the mechanical latency being less than the pulse separation at given repetition rates.

      CONCLUSIONS: The linac latency associated with triggering the beam-on/off was determined to have a minor contribution to the total allowable system latency; thus, the majority of the total system latency can be attributed to linac-independent factors.

      PMID:30220085 | PMC:PMC6500588 | DOI:10.1002/mp.13191

      View details for PubMedID 30220085
  • Development of Compton lens design for increased dose rate in linear accelerator based SRS Journal of radiosurgery and SBRT
    Shepard AJ, Bender ET
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      PURPOSE: To develop a fundamentally new stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) collimator design which utilizes initially off-axis Compton scattered photons to increase the dose rate at isocenter for small field treatments.

      MATERIALS AND METHODS: The proposed design added a set of conical slits to a standard cylindrical collimator to allow for scattered photons within the collimator to still contribute to the overall target dose. The design optimization was broken down into two regions: a solid interaction plate and a Compton slit region. The interaction plate geometry was developed to facilitate Compton scattering towards the target, and the Compton slit geometry was optimized to allow for Compton scattered photons to travel unattenuated towards the target. A series of sensitivity studies were performed using Monte Carlo N-Particle (MCNP6) Transport Code to optimize the geometry of the collimator focusing on the material, thickness, cone size, number of slits and slit width.

      RESULTS: An optimized collimator design incorporating 6 slits for a 4 mm target allowed for an increase in the dose rate of 3.5% while limiting off axis increases between 1 and 5 cm to an average of less than 1% relative to standard collimator designs.

      CONCLUSION: Preliminary designs present a proof of concept and suggest the potential for increases in dose rate for linac-based SRS systems. These designs have been able to achieve increases while maintaining a relatively low dose rate outside of the target. Further exploration into non-linear optimization of the slits and interaction plate geometry may lead to further increases than presently demonstrated.This concept warrants further study with actual measurement and to be tested for its practicality in clinical use.

      PMID:29296447 | PMC:PMC5658805

      View details for PubMedID 29296447
  • A block matching based approach with multiple simultaneous templates for the real-time 2D ultrasound tracking of liver vessels Medical physics
    Shepard AJ, Wang B, Foo KF, Bednarz BP
    2017 Nov;44(11):5889-5900. doi: 10.1002/mp.12574. Epub 2017 Oct 13.
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      PURPOSE: The implementation of motion management techniques in radiation therapy can aid in mitigating uncertainties and reducing margins. For motion management to be effective, it is necessary to track key structures both accurately and at a real-time speed. Therefore, the focus of this work was to develop a 2D algorithm for the real-time tracking of ultrasound features to aid in radiation therapy motion management.

      MATERIALS AND METHODS: The developed algorithm utilized a similarity measure-based block matching algorithm incorporating training methods and multiple simultaneous templates. The algorithm is broken down into three primary components, all of which use normalized cross-correlation (NCC) as a similarity metric. First, a global feature shift to account for gross displacements from the previous frame is determined using large block sizes which encompass the entirety of the feature. Second, the most similar reference frame is chosen from a series of training images that are accumulated during the first K frames of tracking to aid in contour consistency and provide a starting point for the localized template initialization. Finally, localized block matching is performed through the simultaneous use of both a training frame and the previous frame. The localized block matching utilizes a series of templates positioned at the boundary points of the training and previous contours. The weighted final boundary points from both the previous and the training frame are ultimately combined and used to determine an affine transformation from the previous frame to the current frame.

      RESULTS: A mean tracking error of 0.72 ± 1.25 mm was observed for 85 point-landmarks across 39 ultrasound sequences relative to manual ground truth annotations. The image processing speed per landmark with the GPU implementation was between 41 and 165 frames per second (fps) during the training set accumulation, and between 73 and 234 fps after training set accumulation. Relative to a comparable multithreaded CPU approach using OpenMP, the GPU implementation resulted in speedups between -30% and 355% during training set accumulation, and between -37% and 639% postaccumulation.

      CONCLUSIONS: Initial implementations indicated an accuracy that was comparable to or exceeding those achieved by alternative 2D tracking methods, with a computational speed that is more than sufficient for real-time applications in a radiation therapy environment. While the overall performance reached levels suitable for implementation in radiation therapy, the observed increase in failures for smaller features, as well as the algorithm's inability to be applied to nonconvex features warrants additional investigation to address the shortcomings observed.

      PMID:28898419 | PMC:PMC5688953 | DOI:10.1002/mp.12574

      View details for PubMedID 28898419

Contact Information

Andrew Shepard, PhD

600 Highland Avenue,
Madison, WI