Experimental characterization of the low-dose envelope of spot scanning proton beams

Department of Radiation Physics, The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Physics in Medicine and Biology (Impact Factor: 2.76). 06/2010; 55(12):3467-78. DOI: 10.1088/0031-9155/55/12/013
Source: PubMed


In scanned proton beam radiotherapy, multiple pencil beams are used to deliver the total dose to the target volume. Because the number of such beams can be very large, an accurate dosimetric characterization of every single pencil beam is important to provide adequate input data for the configuration of the treatment planning system. In this work, we present a method to measure the low-dose envelope of single pencil beams, known to play a meaningful role in the dose computation for scanned proton beams. We measured the low-dose proton beam envelope, which extends several centimeters outwards from the center of each single pencil beam, by acquiring lateral dose profile data, down to relative dose levels that were a factor of 10(4) lower than the central axis dose. The overall effect of the low-dose envelope on the total dose delivered by multiple pencil beams was determined by measuring the dose output as a function of field size. We determined that the low-dose envelope can be influential even for fields as large as 20 cm x 20 cm.

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    • "Thus an alternative definition of the halo might be 'any dose from charged particles outside the Fermi-Eyges Gaussian', and we consider all such particles, including elastically scattered protons, to be secondaries. We exclude from the halo any beam contamination such as degraded and scattered protons from beam profile monitor wires [6]. Such contamination can be avoided by careful beam line design and, if present, is more properly treated as a secondary core [7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The dose distribution of a pencil beam in a water tank consists of a core, a halo and an aura. The core consists of primary protons which suffer multiple Coulomb scattering (MCS) and slow down by multiple collisions with atomic electrons (Bethe-Bloch theory). The halo consists of charged secondaries, many of them protons, from elastic interactions with H, elastic and inelastic interactions with O, and nonelastic interactions with O. We show that the halo radius is roughly one third of the beam range. The aura consists of neutral secondaries (neutrons and gamma rays) and the charged particles they set in motion. We have measured the core/halo at 177 MeV using a test beam offset in a water tank. The beam monitor was a plane parallel ionization chamber (IC) and the field IC a dose calibrated Exradin T1. Our dose measurements are absolute. We took depth-dose scans at ten displacements from the beam axis ranging from 0 to 10 cm. The dose spans five orders of magnitude, and the transition from halo to aura is obvious. We present model-dependent (MD) and model-independent (MI) fits to these data. The MD fit has 25 parameters, and the goodness of fit (rms (measurement/fit) - 1) is 15%. The MI fit uses cubic spline fits in depth and radius. The goodness of fit is 9%. This fit is more portable and conceptually simpler. We discuss the prevalent parameterization of the core/halo originated by Pedroni et al. [1]. We argue that its use of T(w), a mass stopping power which includes energy deposited by nuclear secondaries, is incorrect. The electromagnetic (Bethe-Bloch) mass stopping power should be used instead. In consequence, 'Bragg peak chamber' measurements and associated corrections are, in our opinion, irrelevant. Furthermore, using T(w) leads to spurious excess dose on the axis of the core around midrange, which may be significant in fields involving relatively few pencil beams.
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    ABSTRACT: The purposes of this study were to validate a discrete spot scanning proton beam nozzle using the Monte Carlo (MC) code MCNPX and use the MC validated model to investigate the effects of a low-dose envelope, which surrounds the beam's central axis, on measurements of integral depth dose (IDD) profiles. An accurate model of the discrete spot scanning beam nozzle from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas) was developed on the basis of blueprints provided by the manufacturer of the nozzle. The authors performed simulations of single proton pencil beams of various energies using the standard multiple Coulomb scattering (MCS) algorithm within the MCNPX source code and a new MCS algorithm, which was implemented in the MCNPX source code. The MC models were validated by comparing calculated in-air and in-water lateral profiles and percentage depth dose profiles for single pencil beams with their corresponding measured values. The models were then further tested by comparing the calculated and measured three-dimensional (3-D) dose distributions. Finally, an IDD profile was calculated with different scoring radii to determine the limitations on the use of commercially available plane-parallel ionization chambers to measure IDD. The distance to agreement, defined as the distance between the nearest positions of two equivalent distributions with the same value of dose, between measured and simulated ranges was within 0.13 cm for both MCS algorithms. For low and intermediate pencil beam energies, the MC simulations using the standard MCS algorithm were in better agreement with measurements. Conversely, the new MCS algorithm produced better results for high-energy single pencil beams. The IDD profile calculated with cylindrical tallies with an area equivalent to the area of the largest commercially available ionization chamber showed up to 7.8% underestimation of the integral dose in certain depths of the IDD profile. The authors conclude that a combination of MCS algorithms is required to accurately reproduce experimental data of single pencil beams and 3-D dose distributions for the scanning beam nozzle. In addition, the MC simulations showed that because of the low-dose envelope, ionization chambers with radii as large as 4.08 cm are insufficient to accurately measure IDD profiles for a 221.8 MeV pencil beam in the scanning beam nozzle.
    Medical Physics 09/2010; 37(9):4960-70. DOI:10.1118/1.3476458 · 2.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) has great potential to improve the therapeutic efficacy of radiotherapy, IMPT optimization can be computationally demanding, particularly for large and complex tumors. Here we propose a dose calculation strategy to accelerate IMPT optimization while reducing memory requirements. By using two adjustable threshold parameters, our method separates dose contributions from proton beamlets into major and minor components for each dose voxel. The optimization proceeds with two levels of iterations: in inner iterations, doses are updated in correspondence with changes in beamlet intensities from only the major contributions while keeping the portions from the minor contributions constant; in outer iterations, doses are recalculated exactly by considering both major and minor contributions. Since the number of elements in the influence matrix for major contributions is relatively small, each inner iteration proceeds quickly. Each outer iteration requires a longer computation time, but only a few such iterations are needed. Our study shows that the proposed strategy leads to nearly identical dose distributions as those optimized with the full influence matrix, but reducing computing time by at least a factor of 3 and internal memory requirements by a factor of 10 or more. In addition, we show that the proposed approach could enhance other optimization-related applications such as optimizing beam angles. By using an advanced lung cancer case that would demand large computing resources by conventional optimization approach, we show how our method may potentially help improve IMPT treatment planning in real clinical situations.
    Physics in Medicine and Biology 02/2011; 56(4):N71-84. DOI:10.1088/0031-9155/56/4/N03 · 2.76 Impact Factor
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