Comprehensive evaluation of a commercial macro Monte Carlo electron dose calculation implementation using a standard verification data set



A commercial electron dose calculation software implementation based on the macro Monte Carlo algorithm has recently been introduced. We have evaluated the performance of the system using a standard verification data set comprised of two-dimensional (2D) dose distributions in the transverse plane of a 15×15cm2 field. The standard data set was comprised of measurements performed for combinations of 9-MeV and 20-MeV beam energies and five phantom geometries. The phantom geometries included bone and air heterogeneities, and irregular surface contours. The standard verification data included a subset of the data needed to commission the dose calculation. Additional required data were obtained from a dosimetrically equivalent machine. In addition, we performed 2D dose measurements in a water phantom for the standard field sizes, a 4cm×4cm field, a 3cm diameter circle, and a 5cm×13cm triangle for the 6-, 9-, 12-, 15-, and 18-MeV energies of a Clinac 21EX. Output factors were also measured. Synthetic CT images and structure contours duplicating the measurement configurations were generated and transferred to the treatment planning system. Calculations for the standard verification data set were performed over the range of each of the algorithm parameters: statistical precision, grid-spacing, and smoothing. Dose difference and distance-to-agreement were computed for the calculation points. We found that the best results were obtained for the highest statistical precision, for the smallest grid spacing, and for smoothed dose distributions. Calculations for the 21EX data were performed using parameters that the evaluation of the standard verification data suggested would produce clinically acceptable results. The dose difference and distance-to-agreement were similar to that observed for the standard verification data set except for the portion of the triangle field narrower than 3cm for the 6- and 9-MeV electron beams. The output agreed with measurements to within 2%, with the exception of the 3-cm diameter circle and the triangle for 6MeV, which were within 5%. We conclude that clinically acceptable results may be obtained using a grid spacing that is no larger than approximately one-tenth of the distal falloff distance of the electron depth dose curve (depth from 80% to 20% of the maximum dose) and small relative to the size of heterogeneities. For judicious choices of parameters, dose calculations agree with measurements to better than 3% dose difference and 3-mm distance-to-agreement for fields with dimensions no less than about 3cm.