Phantom Scatter and the A-SI EPID

Kairn, T., Cassidy, D, & Fielding, A.L. (2008) Phantom Scatter and the A-SI EPID. Australasian Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine, 31(4), pp. 368-369.

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Introduction: The use of amorphous-silicon electronic portal imaging devices (a-Si EPIDs) for dosimetry is complicated by the effects of scattered radiation. In photon radiotherapy, primary signal at the detector can be accompanied by photons scattered from linear accelerator components, detector materials, intervening air, treatment room surfaces (floor, walls, etc) and from the patient/phantom being irradiated. Consequently, EPID measurements which presume to take scatter into account are highly sensitive to the identification of these contributions. One example of this susceptibility is the process of calibrating an EPID for use as a gauge of (radiological) thickness, where specific allowance must be made for the effect of phantom-scatter on the intensity of radiation measured through different thicknesses of phantom. This is usually done via a theoretical calculation which assumes that phantom scatter is linearly related to thickness and field-size. We have, however, undertaken a more detailed study of the scattering effects of fields of different dimensions when applied to phantoms of various thicknesses in order to derive scattered-primary ratios (SPRs) directly from simulation results. This allows us to make a more-accurate calibration of the EPID, and to qualify the appositeness of the theoretical SPR calculations.

Methods: This study uses a full MC model of the entire linac-phantom-detector system simulated using EGSnrc/BEAMnrc codes. The Elekta linac and EPID are modelled according to specifications from the manufacturer and the intervening phantoms are modelled as rectilinear blocks of water or plastic, with their densities set to a range of physically realistic and unrealistic values. Transmissions through these various phantoms are calculated using the dose detected in the model EPID and used in an evaluation of the field-size-dependence of SPR, in different media, applying a method suggested for experimental systems by Swindell and Evans [1]. These results are compared firstly with SPRs calculated using the theoretical, linear relationship between SPR and irradiated volume, and secondly with SPRs evaluated from our own experimental data. An alternate evaluation of the SPR in each simulated system is also made by modifying the BEAMnrc user code READPHSP, to identify and count those particles in a given plane of the system that have undergone a scattering event. In addition to these simulations, which are designed to closely replicate the experimental setup, we also used MC models to examine the effects of varying the setup in experimentally challenging ways (changing the size of the air gap between the phantom and the EPID, changing the longitudinal position of the EPID itself). Experimental measurements used in this study were made using an Elekta Precise linear accelerator, operating at 6MV, with an Elekta iView GT a-Si EPID.

Results and Discussion: 1. Comparison with theory: With the Elekta iView EPID fixed at 160 cm from the photon source, the phantoms, when positioned isocentrically, are located 41 to 55 cm from the surface of the panel. At this geometry, a close but imperfect agreement (differing by up to 5%) can be identified between the results of the simulations and the theoretical calculations. However, this agreement can be totally disrupted by shifting the phantom out of the isocentric position. Evidently, the allowance made for source-phantom-detector geometry by the theoretical expression for SPR is inadequate to describe the effect that phantom proximity can have on measurements made using an (infamously low-energy sensitive) a-Si EPID. 2. Comparison with experiment: For various square field sizes and across the range of phantom thicknesses, there is good agreement between simulation data and experimental measurements of the transmissions and the derived values of the primary intensities. However, the values of SPR obtained through these simulations and measurements seem to be much more sensitive to slight differences between the simulated and real systems, leading to difficulties in producing a simulated system which adequately replicates the experimental data. (For instance, small changes to simulated phantom density make large differences to resulting SPR.) 3. Comparison with direct calculation: By developing a method for directly counting the number scattered particles reaching the detector after passing through the various isocentric phantom thicknesses, we show that the experimental method discussed above is providing a good measure of the actual degree of scattering produced by the phantom. This calculation also permits the analysis of the scattering sources/sinks within the linac and EPID, as well as the phantom and intervening air.

Conclusions: This work challenges the assumption that scatter to and within an EPID can be accounted for using a simple, linear model. Simulations discussed here are intended to contribute to a fuller understanding of the contribution of scattered radiation to the EPID images that are used in dosimetry calculations.

Acknowledgements: This work is funded by the NHMRC, through a project grant, and supported by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. The authors are also grateful to Elekta for the provision of manufacturing specifications which permitted the detailed simulation of their linear accelerators and amorphous-silicon electronic portal imaging devices. Computational resources and services used in this work were provided by the HPC and Research Support Group, QUT, Brisbane, Australia.

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ID Code: 61192
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: No
ISSN: 0158-9938
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 08 Jul 2013 02:32
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2013 02:54

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