Energy-based source strength metrics may find use with model-based dose calculation algorithms, but no instruments exist that can measure the energy emitted from low-dose rate (LDR) sources. This work developed a calorimetric technique for measuring the power emitted from encapsulated low-dose rate, photon-emitting brachytherapy sources. This quantity is called emitted power (EP). The measurement methodology, instrument design and performance, and EP measurements made with the calorimeter are presented in this work.
A calorimeter operating with a liquid helium thermal sink was developed to measure EP from LDR brachytherapy sources. The calorimeter employed an electrical substitution technique to determine the power emitted from the source. The calorimeter's performance and thermal system were characterized. EP measurements were made using four 125I sources with air-kerma strengths ranging from 2.3 to 5.6 U and corresponding EPs of 0.39–0.79 μW, respectively. Three Best Medical 2301 sources and one Oncura 6711 source were measured. EP was also computed by converting measured air-kerma strengths to EPs through Monte Carlo-derived conversion factors. The measured EP and derived EPs were compared to determine the accuracy of the calorimeter measurement technique.
The calorimeter had a noise floor of 1–3 nW and a repeatability of 30–60 nW. The calorimeter was stable to within 5 nW over a 12 h measurement window. All measured values agreed with derived EPs to within 10%, with three of the four sources agreeing to within 4%. Calorimeter measurements had uncertainties ranging from 2.6% to 4.5% at the k = 1 level. The values of the derived EPs had uncertainties ranging from 2.9% to 3.6% at the k = 1 level.
A calorimeter capable of measuring the EP from LDR sources has been developed and validated for 125I sources with EPs between 0.43 and 0.79 μW.