Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 11 (2010), Issue 1, Pages 13-26
Original Article

A Spring–Dashpot System for Modelling Lung Tumour Motion in Radiotherapy

1Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
2Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Received 6 August 2008; Accepted 20 October 2008

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A 3D system of springs and dashpots is presented to model the motion of a lung tumour during respiration. The main guiding factor in configuring the system is the spatial relationship between abdominal and lung tumour motion. A coupled, non-dimensional triple of ordinary differential equations models the tumour motion when driven by a 3D breathing signal. Asymptotic analysis is used to reduce the system to a single equation driven by a 3D signal, in the limit of small lateral and transverse tumour motions. A numerical scheme is introduced to solve this equation, and tested over wide parameter ranges. Real clinical data is used as input to the model, and the tumour motion output is in excellent agreement with that obtained by a prototype tumour tracking system, with model parameters obtained by optimization. The fully 3D model has the potential to accurately model the motion of any lung tumour given an abdominal signal as input, with model parameters obtained from an internal optimization routine.