I am an assistant professor in the Department of Human Oncology. My clinical focus is on brachytherapy and imaging for radiation therapy, specifically CT simulation. CT imaging has made great advances, such as dual-energy CT, and I am passionate about understanding the ways in which these technologies can benefit our patients.
In addition to my clinical and research roles, I also enjoy the many teaching opportunities available at the University of Wisconsin. I teach a graduate-level brachytherapy course for the Department of Medical Physics. Within the Department of Human Oncology, I serve as a mentor for the medical physics residency program. I focus on training residents in the physics of different dosimeters and imaging techniques.
PhD, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Medical Physics (2013)
MS, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Medical Physics (2009)
BA/BS, University of Idaho and University of the Basque Country, Physics and Spanish (2007)
Assistant Professor, Human Oncology (2015–pres.)
Assistant Researcher, Human Oncology (2013–2015)
Research Assistant, Medical Physics (2007–2013)
Selected Honors and Awards
Editor’s pick for the Journal of Medical Physics (2016)
University of Wisconsin Ride Scholar (2016)
First Place, Young Investigator Competition at NCC of the AAPM Meeting (2013)
First Place, Young Investigator Competition at NCC of the AAPM Meeting (2009)
Student Travel Grant Award Winner, Annual Meeting of the CIRMS (2009)
Physics Student of the Year, University of Idaho (2007)
Leonard Halland Physics Scholarship (2007)
College of Science Dean’s List (2003–2007)
University of Idaho Honors Scholarship (2003–2007)
Idaho Academic Scholarship (2003–2007)
Boards, Advisory Committees and Professional Organizations
Accredited Dosimetry Calibration Laboratory Advisory Board Committee Member (2017–pres.)
CT Simulation Improvement Committee Chair (2017-pres.)
Medical Physics Residency Advisory Committee Member (2017–pres.)
Doctoral Candidate Research Advisor (2017–pres.)
Doctoral Candidate Committee Member (2016–pres.)
Radiation Oncology Residency Program Selection Committee Member (2016–pres.)
Medical Physics Residency Program Selection Committee Member (2016–pres.)
Medical Physics Residency Program Curriculum Committee Member (2016–pres.)
UW–La Crosse Medical Dosimetry Program Selection Committee (2014–2015)
UWMRRC Research Oversight Committee (2010–2013)
American Association of Physicists in Medicine (2008–pres.)
Council of Ionization Radiation Measurements (2008–2013)
Brachytherapy, Clinical Operations, Imaging, Motion Management, Radiation Measurements
Research is a critical component to implementing new technologies that allow us to improve care for our patients in the fight against cancer.
Radiation therapy relies on an accurate understanding of tumor location within a patient as well as an accurate model of the radiation beam to be delivered. My research focuses on both of these aspects of radiation therapy delivery. Through optimized CT imaging we can better define the boundaries of a tumor and target the cancer more effectively. I also work with radiation detectors to characterize their response to radiation for a more accurate measurement of dose.
Improving tumor delineation in the pancreas and liver through dual-energy CT
Tumor delineation in the pancreas and liver can be a challenge using conventional CT images. Dual-Energy CT provides many opportunities to better delineate tumor from healthy tissue and therefore has great potential to aid in radiation therapy. The Department of Human Oncology has installed a novel single-source dual-energy CT system, called TwinBeam, with potential for liver and pancreas imaging. We are currently quantifying the advantages gained through TwinBeam dual-energy CT.
Polarity and ion recombination effects in Microionization chambers
An increase in the delivery of small and nonstandard radiation fields has led to the development of small-volume ionization chambers, commonly categorized as microchambers. Small-volume dosimeters can provide high spatial resolution in areas of steep dose gradients. The University of Wisconsin Accredited Dosimetry Calibration Laboratory has experienced an increase in requests for the calibration of microchambers. This indicates that these chambers are being used for reference dosimetry measurements in a wide range of therapy applications. Unfortunately, microchambers exhibit anomalous polarity and ion recombination effects that are not demonstrated by larger-volume, reference-class ionization chambers. We are working to better understand and characterize these chambers.
Radiation-induced Hounsfield unit change correlates with dynamic CT perfusion better than 4DCT-based ventilation measures in a novel-swine model Scientific reports
Wuschner AE, Wallat EM, Flakus MJ, Shanmuganayagam D, Meudt J, Christensen GE, Reinhardt JM, Miller JR, Lawless MJ, Baschnagel AM, Bayouth JE
2021 Jun 23;11(1):13156. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-92609-x.
To analyze radiation induced changes in Hounsfield units and determine their correlation with changes in perfusion and ventilation. Additionally, to compare the post-RT changes in human subjects to those measured in a swine model used to quantify perfusion changes and validate their use as a preclinical model. A cohort of 5 Wisconsin Miniature Swine (WMS) were studied. Additionally, 19 human subjects were recruited as part of an IRB approved clinical trial studying functional avoidance radiation therapy for lung cancer and were treated with SBRT. Imaging (a contrast enhanced dynamic perfusion CT in the swine and 4DCT in the humans) was performed prior to and post-RT. Jacobian elasticity maps were calculated on all 4DCT images. Contours were created from the isodose lines to discretize analysis into 10 Gy dose bins. B-spline deformable image registration allowed for voxel-by-voxel comparative analysis in these contours between timepoints. The WMS underwent a research course of 60 Gy in 5 fractions delivered locally to a target in the lung using an MRI-LINAC system. In the WMS subjects, the dose-bin contours were copied onto the contralateral lung, which received < 5 Gy for comparison. Changes in HU and changes in Jacobian were analyzed in these contours. Statistically significant (p < 0.05) changes in the mean HU value post-RT compared to pre-RT were observed in both the human and WMS groups at all timepoints analyzed. The HU increased linearly with dose for both groups. Strong linear correlation was observed between the changes seen in the swine and humans (Pearson coefficient > 0.97, p < 0.05) at all timepoints. Changes seen in the swine closely modeled the changes seen in the humans at 12 months post RT (slope = 0.95). Jacobian analysis showed between 30 and 60% of voxels were damaged post-RT. Perfusion analysis in the swine showed a statistically significant (p < 0.05) reduction in contrast inside the vasculature 3 months post-RT compared to pre-RT. The increases in contrast outside the vasculature was strongly correlated (Pearson Correlation 0.88) with the reduction in HU inside the vasculature but were not correlated with the changes in Jacobians. Radiation induces changes in pulmonary anatomy at 3 months post-RT, with a strong linear correlation with dose. The change in HU seen in the non-vessel lung parenchyma suggests this metric is a potential biomarker for change in perfusion. Finally, this work suggests that the WMS swine model is a promising pre-clinical model for analyzing radiation-induced changes in humans and poses several benefits over conventional swine models.
PMID:34162987 | PMC:PMC8222280 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-021-92609-x
View details for PubMedID 34162987
A multipurpose brachytherapy catheter to enable intratumoral injection Brachytherapy
Jagodinsky JC, Medeiros G, Raj HH, Razuan A, Locsin A, Dempsey TG, Tang B, Chakravarty I, Clark PA, Sriramaneni RN, Jin WJ, Lan K, Das RK, Miller JR, Suarez-Gonzalez D, Morris ZS
2021 Jul-Aug;20(4):900-910. doi: 10.1016/j.brachy.2020.10.012. Epub 2021 Mar 27.
PURPOSE: To create and test a multipurpose brachytherapy catheter prototype enabling intratumoral injection and brachytherapy after a single catheter insertion.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: The design of the prototype consists of an outer tube and an inner syringe tube that can be filled with injectable agent. The outer sheath and inner syringe tube were constructed using polytetrafluoroethylene tubing, and the other components were 3D printed using dental resin and polylactic acid material. To demonstrate functionality, we injected in vitro phantoms with dyed saline. For proof of concept, we demonstrated the potential for the prototype to deliver cell therapy, enhance tumor delineation, deliver tattoo ink for pathology marking, avoid toxicity through local delivery of chemotherapy, and facilitate combination brachytherapy and immunotherapy.
RESULTS: The prototype enables accurate injection in vitro and in vivo without altering dosimetry. To illustrate the potential for delivery of cell therapies, we injected luciferase-expressing splenocytes and confirmed their delivery with bioluminescence imaging. To demonstrate feasibility of radiographically visualizing injected material, we delivered iohexol contrast intratumorally and confirmed tumor retention using Faxitron x-ray imaging. In addition, we show the potential of intratumoral administration to reduce toxicity associated with cyclophosphamide compared with systemic administration. To demonstrate feasibility, we treated tumor-bearing mice with brachytherapy (192Ir source, 2 Gy to 5 mm) in combination with intratumoral injection of 375,000 U of interleukin 2 and observed no increased toxicity.
CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that a prototype multipurpose brachytherapy catheter enables accurate intratumoral injection and support the feasibility of combining intratumoral injection with brachytherapy.
PMID:33785280 | PMC:PMC8323107 | DOI:10.1016/j.brachy.2020.10.012
View details for PubMedID 33785280
Evaluation of a commercial deformable image registration algorithm for dual-energy CT processing Journal of applied clinical medical physics
Huang JY, Lawless MJ, Matrosic CK, Maso DD, Miller JR
2020 Sep;21(9):227-234. doi: 10.1002/acm2.12987. Epub 2020 Jul 25.
PURPOSE: Several dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) techniques require a deformable image registration to correct for motion between the acquisition of low and high energy data. However, current DECT software does not provide tools to assess registration accuracy or allow the user to export deformed images, presenting a unique challenge for image registration quality assurance (QA). This work presents a methodology to evaluate the accuracy of DECT deformable registration and to quantify the impact of registration errors on end-product images.
METHODS: The deformable algorithm implemented in Siemen Healthineers's Syngo was evaluated using a deformable abdomen phantom and a rigid phantom to mimic sliding motion in the thorax. Both phantoms were imaged using sequential 80 and 140 kVp scans with motion applied between the two scans. Since Syngo does not allow the export of the deformed images, this study focused on quantifying the accuracy of various end-product, dual-energy images resulting from processing of deformed images.
RESULTS: The Syngo algorithm performed well for the abdomen phantom with a mean registration error of 0.4 mm for landmark analysis, Dice similarity coefficients (DSCs) > 0.90 for five organs contoured, and mean iodine concentrations within 0.2 mg/mL of values measured on static images. For rigid sliding motion, the algorithm performed poorer and resulted in noticeable registration errors toward the superior and inferior scan extents and DSCs as low as 0.41 for iodine rods imaged in the phantom. Additionally, local iodine concentration errors in areas of misregistration exceeded 3 mg/mL.
CONCLUSIONS: This work represents the first methodology for DECT image registration QA using commercial software. Our data support the clinical use of the Syngo algorithm for abdominal sites with limited motion (i.e., pancreas and liver). However, dual-energy images generated with this algorithm should be used with caution for quantitative measurements in areas with sliding motion.
PMID:32710502 | PMC:PMC7497912 | DOI:10.1002/acm2.12987
View details for PubMedID 32710502
Investigating split-filter dual-energy CT for improving liver tumor visibility for radiation therapy Journal of applied clinical medical physics
DiMaso LD, Miller JR, Lawless MJ, Bassetti MF, DeWerd LA, Huang J
2020 Aug;21(8):249-255. doi: 10.1002/acm2.12904. Epub 2020 May 15.
PURPOSE: Accurate liver tumor delineation is crucial for radiation therapy, but liver tumor volumes are difficult to visualize with conventional single-energy CT. This work investigates the use of split-filter dual-energy CT (DECT) for liver tumor visibility by quantifying contrast and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR).
METHODS: Split-filter DECT contrast-enhanced scans of 20 liver tumors including cholangiocarcinomas, hepatocellular carcinomas, and liver metastases were acquired. Analysis was performed on the arterial and venous phases of mixed 120 kVp-equivalent images and VMIs at 57 keV and 40 keV gross target volume (GTV) contrast and CNR were calculated.
RESULTS: For the arterial phase, liver GTV contrast was 12.1 ± 10.0 HU and 43.1 ± 32.3 HU (P < 0.001) for the mixed images and 40 keV VMIs. Image noise increased on average by 116% for the 40 keV VMIs compared to the mixed images. The average CNR did not change significantly (1.6 ± 1.5, 1.7 ± 1.4, 2.4 ± 1.7 for the mixed, 57 keV and 40 keV VMIs (P > 0.141)). For individual cases, however, CNR increases of up to 607% were measured for the 40 keV VMIs compared to the mixed image. Venous phase 40 keV VMIs demonstrated an average increase of 35.4 HU in GTV contrast and 121% increase in image noise. Average CNR values were also not statistically different, but for individual cases CNR increases of up to 554% were measured for the 40 keV VMIs compared to the mixed image.
CONCLUSIONS: Liver tumor contrast was significantly improved using split-filter DECT 40 keV VMIs compared to mixed images. On average, there was no statistical difference in CNR between the mixed images and VMIs, but for individual cases, CNR was greatly increased for the 57 keV and 40 keV VMIs. Therefore, although not universally successful for our patient cohort, split-filter DECT VMIs may provide substantial gains in tumor visibility of certain liver cases for radiation therapy treatment planning.
PMID:32410336 | PMC:PMC7484851 | DOI:10.1002/acm2.12904
View details for PubMedID 32410336
Investigating a novel split-filter dual-energy CT technique for improving pancreas tumor visibility for radiation therapy Journal of applied clinical medical physics
Maso DD, Huang J, Bassetti MF, DeWerd LA, Miller JR
2018 Sep;19(5):676-683. doi: 10.1002/acm2.12435. Epub 2018 Aug 17.
PURPOSE: Tumor delineation using conventional CT images can be a challenge for pancreatic adenocarcinoma where contrast between the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue is low. This work investigates the ability of a split-filter dual-energy CT (DECT) system to improve pancreatic tumor contrast and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) for radiation therapy treatment planning.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Multiphasic scans of 20 pancreatic tumors were acquired using a split-filter DECT technique with iodinated contrast medium, OMNIPAQUETM . Analysis was performed on the pancreatic and portal venous phases for several types of DECT images. Pancreatic gross target volume (GTV) contrast and CNR were calculated and analyzed from mixed 120 kVp-equivalent images and virtual monoenergetic images (VMI) at 57 and 40 keV. The role of iterative reconstruction on DECT images was also investigated. Paired t-tests were used to assess the difference in GTV contrast and CNR among the different images.
RESULTS: The VMIs at 40 keV had a 110% greater image noise compared to the mixed 120 kVp-equivalent images (P < 0.0001). VMIs at 40 keV increased GTV contrast from 15.9 ± 19.9 HU to 93.7 ± 49.6 HU and CNR from 1.37 ± 2.05 to 3.86 ± 2.78 in comparison to the mixed 120 kVp-equivalent images. The iterative reconstruction algorithm investigated decreased noise in the VMIs by about 20% and improved CNR by about 30%.
CONCLUSIONS: Pancreatic tumor contrast and CNR were significantly improved using VMIs reconstructed from the split-filter DECT technique, and the use of iterative reconstruction further improved CNR. This gain in tumor contrast may lead to more accurate tumor delineation for radiation therapy treatment planning.
PMID:30117641 | PMC:PMC6123148 | DOI:10.1002/acm2.12435
View details for PubMedID 30117641
Novel use of ViewRay MRI guidance for high-dose-rate brachytherapy in the treatment of cervical cancer Brachytherapy
Ko HC, Huang JY, Miller JR, Das RK, Wallace CR, Costa AD, Francis DM, Straub MR, Anderson BM, Bradley KA
2018 Jul-Aug;17(4):680-688. doi: 10.1016/j.brachy.2018.04.005. Epub 2018 Jun 7.
PURPOSE: To characterize image quality and feasibility of using ViewRay MRI (VR)-guided brachytherapy planning for cervical cancer.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Cervical cancer patients receiving intracavitary brachytherapy with tandem and ovoids, planned using 0.35T VR MRI at our institution, were included in this series. The high-risk clinical target volume (HR-CTV), visible gross tumor volume, bladder, sigmoid, bowel, and rectum contours for each fraction of brachytherapy were evaluated for dosimetric parameters. Typically, five brachytherapy treatments were planned using the T2 sequence on diagnostic MRI for the first and third fractions, and a noncontrast true fast imaging with steady-state precession sequence on VR or CT scan for the remaining fractions. Most patients received 5.5 Gy × 5 fractions using high-dose-rate Ir-192 following 45 Gy of whole-pelvis radiotherapy. The plan was initiated at 5.5 Gy to point A and subsequently optimized and prescribed to the HR-CTV. The goal equivalent dose in 2 Gy fractions for the combined external beam and brachytherapy dose was 85 Gy. Soft-tissue visualization using contrast-to-noise ratios to distinguish normal tissues from tumor at their interface was compared between diagnostic MRI, CT, and VR.
RESULTS: One hundred and forty-two fractions of intracavitary brachytherapy were performed from April 2015 to January 2017 on 29 cervical cancer patients, ranging from stages IB1 to IVA. The median HR-CTV was 27.78 cc, with median D90 HR-CTV of 6.1 Gy. The median time from instrument placement to start of treatment using VR was 65 min (scan time 2 min), compared to 105 min using diagnostic MRI (scan time 11 min) (t-test, p < 0.01). The contrast-to-noise ratio of tumor to cervix in both diagnostic MRI and VR had significantly higher values compared to CT (ANOVA and t-tests, p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: We report the first clinical use of VR-guided brachytherapy. Time to treatment using this approach was shorter compared to diagnostic MRI. VR also provided significant advantage in visualizing the tumor and cervix compared to CT. This presents a feasible and reliable manner to image and plan gynecologic brachytherapy.
PMID:29773331 | DOI:10.1016/j.brachy.2018.04.005
View details for PubMedID 29773331
Reply to: Comment on: polarity effects and apparent ion recombination in microionization chambers [Med. Phys. 43(5) 2141-2152 (2016)] Medical physics
Miller JR, Hooten BD, Micka JA, DeWerd LA
2017 Mar;44(3):1206-1207. doi: 10.1002/mp.12084. Epub 2017 Feb 10.
We would like to thank Dr. Brivio et al. [Med. Phys.] for their comment on our recent paper. Miller et al. [Med. Phys. 43 (2016) 2141-2152] determined the primary cause of voltage-dependent polarity effects in microchambers to be a potential difference between the guard and collecting electrodes. In their comment, Brivio et al., offer an explanation for the cause of such potential differences. Brivio et al. attribute the potential difference to the disparity in the work functions between guard and collecting electrodes composed of different materials. However, all of the microchambers investigated in Miller et al. contained a guard and collecting electrode which were composed of the same material. Therefore, the explanation offered by Brivio et al. that "the electric potential perturbation arises from the work function difference of the disparate materials electrodes" does not explain the polarity effects exhibited by the microchambers investigated in Miller et al., all of which contain electrodes composed of the same materials.
PMID:28052335 | DOI:10.1002/mp.12084
View details for PubMedID 28052335
Ion recombination and polarity corrections for small-volume ionization chambers in high-dose-rate, flattening-filter-free pulsed photon beams Medical physics
Hyun MA, Miller JR, Micka JA, DeWerd LA
2017 Feb;44(2):618-627. doi: 10.1002/mp.12053. Epub 2017 Feb 2.
PURPOSE: To investigate ion recombination and polarity effects in scanning and microionization chambers when used with digital electrometers and high-dose-rate linac beams such as flattening-filter-free (FFF) fields, and to compare results against conventional pulsed and continuous photon beams.
METHODS: Saturation curves were obtained for one Farmer-type ionization chamber and eight small-volume chamber models with volumes ranging from 0.01 to 0.13 cm3 using a Varian TrueBeam™ STx with FFF capability. Three beam modes (6 MV, 6 MV FFF, and 10 MV FFF) were investigated, with nominal dose-per-pulse values of 0.0278, 0.0648, and 0.111 cGy/pulse, respectively, at dmax . Saturation curves obtained using the Theratronics T1000 60 Co unit at the UWADCL and a conventional linear accelerator (Varian Clinac iX) were used to establish baseline behavior. Jaffé plots were fitted to obtain Pion , accounting for exponential effects such as charge multiplication. These values were compared with the two-voltage technique recommended in TG-51, and were plotted as a function of dose-per-pulse to assess the ability of small-volume chambers to meet reference-class criteria in FFF beams.
RESULTS: Jaffé- and two-voltage-determined Pion values measured for high-dose-rate beams agreed within 0.1% for the Farmer-type chamber and 1% for scanning and microionization chambers, with the exception of the CC01 which agreed within 2%. With respect to ion recombination and polarity effects, the Farmer-type chamber, scanning chambers and the Exradin A26 microchamber exhibited reference-class behavior in all beams investigated, with the exception of the IBA CC04 scanning chamber, which had an initial recombination correction that varied by 0.2% with polarity. All microchambers investigated, with the exception of the A26, exhibited anomalous polarity and ion recombination behaviors that make them unsuitable for reference dosimetry in conventional and high-dose-rate photon beams.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this work demonstrate that recombination and polarity behaviors seen in conventional pulsed and continuous photon beams trend accordingly in high-dose-rate FFF linac beams. Several models of small-volume ionization chambers used with a digital electrometer have been shown to meet reference-class requirements with respect to ion recombination and polarity, even in the high-dose-rate environment. For such chambers, a two-voltage technique agreed well with more rigorous methods of determining Pion . However, the results emphasize the need for careful reference detector selection, and indicate that ionization chambers ought to be extensively tested in each beam of interest prior to their use for reference dosimetry.
PMID:28001291 | DOI:10.1002/mp.12053
View details for PubMedID 28001291
Polarity effects and apparent ion recombination in microionization chambers Medical physics
Miller JR, Hooten BD, Micka JA, DeWerd LA
2016 May;43(5):2141. doi: 10.1118/1.4944872.
PURPOSE: Microchambers demonstrate anomalous voltage-dependent polarity effects. Existing polarity and ion recombination correction factors do not account for these effects. As a result, many commercial microchamber models do not meet the specification of a reference-class ionization chamber as defined by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. The purpose of this investigation is to determine the cause of these voltage-dependent polarity effects.
METHODS: A series of microchamber prototypes were produced to isolate the source of the voltage-dependent polarity effects. Parameters including ionization-chamber collecting-volume size, stem and cable irradiation, chamber assembly, contaminants, high-Z materials, and individual chamber components were investigated. Measurements were performed with electrodes coated with graphite to isolate electrode conductivity. Chamber response was measured as the potential bias of the guard electrode was altered with respect to the collecting electrode, through the integration of additional power supplies. Ionization chamber models were also simulated using comsol Multiphysics software to investigate the effect of a potential difference between electrodes on electric field lines and collecting volume definition.
RESULTS: Investigations with microchamber prototypes demonstrated that the significant source of the voltage-dependent polarity effects was a potential difference between the guard and collecting electrodes of the chambers. The voltage-dependent polarity effects for each prototype were primarily isolated to either the guard or collecting electrode. Polarity effects were reduced by coating the isolated electrode with a conductive layer of graphite. Polarity effects were increased by introducing a potential difference between the electrodes. comsol simulations further demonstrated that for a given potential difference between electrodes, the collecting volume of the chamber changed as the applied voltage was altered, producing voltage-dependent polarity effects in the chamber response. Ionization chamber measurements and comsol simulations demonstrated an inverse relationship between the chamber collecting volume size and the severity of voltage-dependent polarity effects on chamber response. The effect of a given potential difference on chamber polarity effects was roughly ten times greater for microchambers as compared to Farmer-type chambers. Stem and cable irradiations, chamber assembly, contaminants, and high-Z materials were not found to be a significant source of the voltage-dependent polarity effects.
CONCLUSIONS: A potential difference between the guard and collecting electrodes was found to be the primary source of the voltage-dependent polarity effects demonstrated by microchambers. For a given potential difference between electrodes, the relative change in the collecting volume is smaller for larger-volume chambers, illustrating why these polarity effects are not seen in larger-volume chambers with similar guard and collecting electrode designs. Thus, for small-volume chambers, it is necessary to reduce the potential difference between the guard and collecting electrodes in order to reduce polarity effects for reference dosimetry measurements.
PMID:27147326 | DOI:10.1118/1.4944872
View details for PubMedID 27147326
Jessica Miller, PhD600 Highland Avenue,
Madison, WI 53792