Radiation Dosimetry of Irregularly Shaped Objects
Thesis DisciplineMedical Physics
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Electron beam therapy planning and custom electron bolus design were identified as areas in which improvements in equipment and techniques could lead to significant improvements in treatment delivery and patient outcomes. The electron pencil beam algorithms used in conventional Treatment Planning Systems do not accurately model the dose distribution in irregularly shaped objects, near oblique surfaces or in inhomogeneous media. For this reason, at Christchurch Oncology Centre the TPS is not relied on for planning electron beam treatments. This project is an initial study of ways to improve the design of custom electron bolus, the planning of electron beam therapy, and other radiation therapy simulation tasks, by developing a system for the accurate assessment of dose distributions under irregular contours in clinically relevant situations. A shaped water phantom system and a diode array have been developed and tested. The design and construction of this water phantom dosimetry system are described, and its capabilities and limitations discussed. An EGS/BEAM Monte Carlo simulation system has been installed, and models of the Christchurch Oncology Centre linacs in 6MeV and 9MeV electron beam modes have been built and commissioned. A test was run comparing the EGS/BEAM Monte Carlo system and the CMS Xio conventional treatment planning system with the experimental measurement technique using the water phantom and the diode array. This test was successful as a proof of the concept of the experimental technique. At the conclusion of this project, the main limitation of the diode array system was the lack of data processing software. The array produces a large volume of raw data, but not enough processed data was produced during this project to match the spatial resolution of the computer models. An automated data processing system will be needed for clinical use of the array. It has been confirmed that Monte Carlo and pencil-beam algorithms predict significantly different dose distributions for an irregularly shaped object irradiated with megavoltage electron beams. The results from the diode array were consistent with the theoretical models. This project was an initial investigation. At the time of writing, the diode array and the water phantom systems were still at an early stage of development. The work reported here was performed to build, test and commission the equipment. Additional work will be needed to produce an instrument for clinical use. Research into electron beam therapy could be continued, or the equipment used to expand research into new areas.