Monte Carlo linear accelerator simulation of megavoltage photon beams: Independent determination of initial beam parameters

Authors


Abstract

Purpose

: To individually benchmark the incident electron parameters in a Monte Carlo model of an Elekta linear accelerator operating at 6 and 15 MV. The main objective is to establish a simplified but still precise benchmarking procedure that allows accurate dose calculations of advanced treatment techniques.

Methods

: TheEGSnrc Monte Carlo user codes BEAMnrc and DOSXYZnrc are used for photon beam simulations and dose calculations, respectively. A 5 × 5 cm2 field is used to determine both the incident electron energy and the electron radial intensity. First, the electron energy is adjusted to match the calculated depth dose to the measured one. Second, the electron radial intensity is adjusted to make the calculated dose profile in the penumbrae region match the penumbrae measured by GafChromic EBT film. Finally, the mean angular spread of the incident electron beam is determined by matching calculated and measured cross-field profiles of large fields. The beam parameters are verified for various field sizes and shapes.

Results

: The penumbrae measurements revealed a non-circular electron radial intensity distribution for the 6 MV beam, while a circular electron radial intensity distribution could best describe the 15 MV beam. These electron radial intensity distributions, given as the standard deviation of a Gaussian distribution, were found to be 0.25 mm (in-plane) and 1.0 mm (cross-plane) for the 6 MV beam and 0.5 mm (both in-plane and cross-plane) for the 15 MV beam. Introducing a small mean angular spread of the incident electron beam has a considerable impact on the lateral dose profiles of large fields. The mean angular spread was found to be 0.7° and 0.5° for the 6 and 15 MV beams, respectively.

Conclusions

: The incident electron beam parameters in a Monte Carlo model of a linear accelerator could be precisely and independently determined by the benchmarking procedure proposed. As the dose distribution in the penumbra region is insensitive to moderate changes in electron energy and angular spread, accurate penumbra measurements is feasible for benchmarking the electron radial intensity distribution. This parameter is particularly important for accurate dosimetry of mlc-shaped fields and small fields.

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