Pencil -beam redefinition algorithm dose calculations for electron therapy treatment planning

Robert Arthur Boyd, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The electron pencil-beam redefinition algorithm (PBRA) of Shiu and Hogstrom has been developed for use in radiotherapy treatment planning (RTP). Earlier studies of Boyd and Hogstrom showed that the PBRA lacked an adequate incident beam model, that PBRA might require improved electron physics, and that no data existed which allowed adequate assessment of the PBRA-calculated dose accuracy in a heterogeneous medium such as one presented by patient anatomy. The hypothesis of this research was that by addressing the above issues the PBRA-calculated dose would be accurate to within 4% or 2 mm in regions of high dose gradients. A secondary electron source was added to the PBRA to account for collimation-scattered electrons in the incident beam. Parameters of the dual-source model were determined from a minimal data set to allow ease of beam commissioning. Comparisons with measured data showed 3% or better dose accuracy in water within the field for cases where 4% accuracy was not previously achievable. A measured data set was developed that allowed an evaluation of PBRA in regions distal to localized heterogeneities. Geometries in the data set included irregular surfaces and high- and low-density internal heterogeneities. The data was estimated to have 1% precision and 2% agreement with accurate, benchmarked Monte Carlo (MC) code. PBRA electron transport was enhanced by modeling local pencil beam divergence. This required fundamental changes to the mathematics of electron transport (divPBRA). Evaluation of divPBRA with the measured data set showed marginal improvement in dose accuracy when compared to PBRA; however, 4% or 2mm accuracy was not achieved by either PBRA version for all data points. Finally, PBRA was evaluated clinically by comparing PBRA- and MC-calculated dose distributions using site-specific patient RTP data. Results show PBRA did not agree with MC to within 4% or 2mm in a small fraction (<3%) of the irradiated volume. Although the hypothesis of the research was shown to be false, the minor dose inaccuracies should have little or no impact on RTP decisions or patient outcome. Therefore, given ease of beam commissioning, documentation of accuracy, and calculational speed, the PBRA should be considered a practical tool for clinical use.

Subject Area

Radiology|Radiation|Biomedical research

Recommended Citation

Boyd, Robert Arthur, "Pencil -beam redefinition algorithm dose calculations for electron therapy treatment planning" (2001). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3004447.