The influence of neutron contamination on dosimetry in external photon beam radiotherapy

Authors

  • Horst Felix,

    1. Institute of Medical Physics and Radiation Protection (IMPS), University of Applied Sciences Giessen, Giessen D-35390, Germany
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  • Czarnecki Damian,

    1. Institute of Medical Physics and Radiation Protection (IMPS), University of Applied Sciences Giessen, Giessen D-35390, Germany
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  • Zink Klemens

    1. Institute of Medical Physics and Radiation Protection (IMPS), University of Applied Sciences Giessen, Giessen D-35390, Germany and Department of Radiotherapy and Radiooncology, University Medical Center Giessen-Marburg, Marburg D-35043, Germany
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Abstract

Purpose:

Photon fields with energies above ∼7 MeV are contaminated by neutrons due to photonuclear reactions. Their influence on dosimetry—although considered to be very low—is widely unexplored.

Methods:

In this work, Monte Carlo based investigations into this issue performed with fluka and egsnrc are presented. A typical Linac head in 18 MV-X mode was modeled equivalently within both codes. egsnrc was used for the photon and fluka for the neutron production and transport simulation. Water depth dose profiles and the response of different detectors (Farmer chamber, TLD-100, TLD-600H, and TLD-700H chip) in five representative depths were simulated and the neutrons’ impact (neutron absorbed dose relative to photon absorbed dose) was calculated. To take account of the neutrons’ influence, a theoretically required correction factor was defined and calculated for five representative water depths.

Results:

The neutrons’ impact on the absorbed dose to water was found to be below 0.1% for all depths and their impact on the response of the Farmer chamber and the TLD-700H chip was found to be even less. For the TLD-100 and the TLD-600H chip it was found to be up to 0.3% and 0.7%, respectively. The theoretical correction factors to be applied to absorbed dose to water values measured with these four detectors in a depth different from the reference/calibration depth were calculated and found to be below 0.05% for the Farmer chamber and the TLD-700H chip, but up to 0.15% and 0.35% for the TLD-100 and TLD-600H chips, respectively. In thermoluminescence dosimetry the neutrons’ influence (and therefore the additional inaccuracy in measurement) was found to be higher for TLD materials whose 6Li fraction is high, such as TLD-100 and TLD-600H, resulting from the thermal neutron capture reaction on 6Li.

Conclusions:

The impact of photoneutrons on the absorbed dose to water and on the response of a typical ionization chamber as well as three different types of TLD chips was quantified and was as expected found to be very low relative to that of the primary photons. For most practical reasons the neutrons’ influence on dosimetry might be neglected while for absolute precise thermoluminescence dosimetry in high energy photon fields, the use of TLD-700H (<0.03% 6Li) instead of the commonly used TLD-100 (7.4% 6Li) or even the extra neutron sensitive TLD-600H is recommended (95.6% 6Li) due to the additional inaccuracy in measurement for TLD materials with a high 6Li fraction.

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