Although the conformity index (CI) and the gradient index (GI), which were proposed by Paddick and colleagues, are both logically considered to correlate with good posttreatment results after stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), this hypothesis has not been confirmed clinically. The authors’ aim was to reappraise whether high CI values correlate with reduced tumor progression rates, and whether low GI values correlate with reduced complication incidences.
This was an institutional review board–approved, retrospective cohort study conducted using a prospectively accumulated database including 3271 patients who underwent Gamma Knife SRS for brain metastases (BMs) during the 1998–2016 period. Among the 3271 patients, 925 with a single BM at the time of SRS (335 women and 590 men, mean age 66 [range 24–93] years) were studied. The mean/median CIs were 0.62/0.66 (interquartile range [IQR] 0.53–0.74, range 0.08–0.88) and the mean/median GIs were 3.20/3.09 (IQR 2.83–3.39, range 2.27–11.4).
SRS-related complications occurred in 38 patients (4.1%), with a median post-SRS interval of 11.5 (IQR 6.0–25.8, maximum 118.0) months. Cumulative incidences of post-SRS complications determined by a competing risk analysis were 2.2%, 3.2%, 3.6%, 3.8%, and 3.9% at the 12th, 24th, 36th, 48th, and 60th post-SRS month, respectively. Multivariable analyses showed that only two clinical factors (i.e., peripheral doses and brain volume receiving ≥ 12 Gy) correlated with complication rates. However, neither CIs nor GIs impacted the incidences of complications. Among the 925 patients, post-SRS MRI was performed at least once in 716 of them, who were thus eligible for local progression evaluation. Among these 716 patients, local progression was confirmed in 96 (13.4%), with a median post-SRS interval of 10.8 (IQR 6.7–19.5, maximum 59.8) months. Cumulative incidences of local progression determined by a competing risk analysis were 7.7%, 12.6%, 14.2%, 14.8%, and 15.3% at the 12th, 24th, 36th, 48th, and 60th post-SRS month, respectively. Multivariable analyses showed neurological symptoms, extracerebral metastases, repeat SRS, and CIs to correlate with incidences of local progression, whereas GIs had no impact on local tumor progression. Particularly, cumulative incidences of local progression were significantly lower in patients with CIs < 0.65 than in those with CIs ≥ 0.65 (adjusted hazard ratio 1.870, 95% confidence interval 1.299–2.843; p = 0.0034).
To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first analysis to focus on the clinical significance of CI and GI based on a large series of patients with BM. Contrary to the majority opinion that dose planning with higher CI and lower GI results in good post-SRS outcomes (i.e., low local progression rates and minimal complications), this study clearly showed that the lower the CIs were, the lower the local progression rates were, and that the GI did not impact complication rates.