Characterisation of mega-voltage electron pencil beam dose distributions: viability of a measurement-based approach

M.P. Barnes, Martin Ebert

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    The concept of electron pencil-beam dose distributions is central to pencil-beam algorithms used in electron beam radiotherapy treatment planning. The Hogstrom algorithm. which is a common algorithm for electron treatment planning, models large electron field dose distributions by the superposition of a series of pencil beam dose distributions. This means that the accurate characterisation of an electron pencil beam is essential for the accuracy of the dose algorithm. The aim of this Study was to evaluate a measurement based approach for obtaining electron pencil-beam dose distributions. The primary incentive for the study was the accurate calculation of dose distributions for narrow fields as traditional electron algorithms are generally inaccurate for such geometries. Kodak X-Omat radiographic film was used in a solid water phantom to measure the dose distribution of circular 12 MeV beams from a Varian 21EX linear accelerator. Measurements were made for beams of diameter. 1.5, 2.4, 8, 16 and 32 mm. A blocked-field technique was used to subtract photon contamination in the beam. The "error function" derived from Fermi-Eyges Multiple Coulomb Scattering (MCS) theory for corresponding square fields was used to fit resulting dose distributions so that extrapolation down to a pencil beam distribution Could be made. The Monte Carlo codes, BEAM and EGSnrc were used to simulate the experimental arrangement. The 8 mm beam dose distribution was also measured with TLD-100 microcubes. Agreement between film. TLD and Monte Carlo simulation results were found to be consistent with the spatial resolution used. The study has shown that it is possible to extrapolate narrow electron beam dose distributions down to a pencil beam dose distribution using the error function. However, due to experimental uncertainties and measurement difficulties, Monte Carlo is recommended as the method of choice for characterising electron pencil-beam dose distributions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10-17
    JournalAustralasian Physical & Engineering Sciences In Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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