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Modelling lateral beam quality variations in pencil kernel based photon dose calculations
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Oncology, Radiology and Clinical Immunology.
2006 (English)In: Physics in Medicine and Biology, ISSN 0031-9155, E-ISSN 1361-6560, Vol. 51, no 16, 4111-4118 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Standard treatment machines for external radiotherapy are designed to yield flat dose distributions at a representative treatment depth. The common method to reach this goal is to use a flattening filter to decrease the fluence in the centre of the beam. A side effect of this filtering is that the average energy of the beam is generally lower at a distance from the central axis, a phenomenon commonly referred to as off-axis softening. The off-axis softening results in a relative change in beam quality that is almost independent of machine brand and model. Central axis dose calculations using pencil beam kernels show no drastic loss in accuracy when the off-axis beam quality variations are neglected. However, for dose calculated at off-axis positions the effect should be considered, otherwise errors of several per cent can be introduced. This work proposes a method to explicitly include the effect of off-axis softening in pencil kernel based photon dose calculations for arbitrary positions in a radiation field. Variations of pencil kernel values are modelled through a generic relation between half value layer (HVL) thickness and off-axis position for standard treatment machines. The pencil kernel integration for dose calculation is performed through sampling of energy fluence and beam quality in sectors of concentric circles around the calculation point. The method is fully based on generic data and therefore does not require any specific measurements for characterization of the off-axis softening effect, provided that the machine performance is in agreement with the assumed HVL variations. The model is verified versus profile measurements at different depths and through a model self-consistency check, using the dose calculation model to estimate HVL values at off-axis positions. A comparison between calculated and measured profiles at different depths showed a maximum relative error of 4% without explicit modelling of off-axis softening. The maximum relative error was reduced to 1% when the off-axis softening was accounted for in the calculations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 51, no 16, 4111-4118 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-12112DOI: 10.1088/0031-9155/51/16/016ISI: 000240079100017PubMedID: 16885628OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-12112DiVA: diva2:39881
Available from: 2007-11-27 Created: 2007-11-27 Last updated: 2011-06-21Bibliographically approved

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Ahnesjö, Anders
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