Air-kerma strength determination of a new directional 103Pd source




A new directional 103Pd planar source array called a CivaSheet™ has been developed by CivaTech Oncology, Inc., for potential use in low-dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy treatments. The array consists of multiple individual polymer capsules called CivaDots, containing 103Pd and a gold shield that attenuates the radiation on one side, thus defining a hot and cold side. This novel source requires new methods to establish a source strength metric. The presence of gold material in such close proximity to the active 103Pd region causes the source spectrum to be significantly different than the energy spectra of seeds normally used in LDR brachytherapy treatments. In this investigation, the authors perform air-kerma strength (SK) measurements, develop new correction factors for these measurements based on an experimentally verified energy spectrum, and test the robustness of transferring SK to a well-type ionization chamber.


SK measurements were performed with the variable-aperture free-air chamber (VAFAC) at the University of Wisconsin Medical Radiation Research Center. Subsequent measurements were then performed in a well-type ionization chamber. To realize the quantity SK from a directional source with gold material present, new methods and correction factors were considered. Updated correction factors were calculated using the mcnp 6 Monte Carlo code in order to determine SK with the presence of gold fluorescent energy lines. In addition to SK measurements, a low-energy high-purity germanium (HPGe) detector was used to experimentally verify the calculated spectrum, a sodium iodide (NaI) scintillating counter was used to verify the azimuthal and polar anisotropy, and a well-type ionization chamber was used to test the feasibility of disseminating SK values for a directional source within a cylindrically symmetric measurement volume.


The UW VAFAC was successfully used to measure the SK of four CivaDots with reproducibilities within 0.3%. Monte Carlo methods were used to calculate the UW VAFAC correction factors and the calculated spectrum emitted from a CivaDot was experimentally verified with HPGe detector measurements. The well-type ionization chamber showed minimal variation in response (<1.5%) as a function of source positioning angle, indicating that an American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Accredited Dosimetry Calibration Laboratory calibrated well chamber would be a suitable device to transfer an SK-based calibration to a clinical user. SK per well-chamber ionization current ratios were consistent among the four dots measured. Additionally, the measurements and predictions of anisotropy show uniform emission within the solid angle of the VAFAC, which demonstrates the robustness of the SK measurement approach.


This characterization of a new 103Pd directional brachytherapy source helps to establish calibration methods that could ultimately be used in the well-established AAPM Task Group 43 formalism. Monte Carlo methods accurately predict the changes in the energy spectrum caused by the fluorescent x-rays produced in the gold shield.