The use of solid carbon fiber table materials in radiotherapy has become more common with the implementation of image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), since the solid materials give less imaging artifacts than the so-called tennis racket couchtops. The downside of the solid carbon fiber couch inserts is that they increase the beam attenuation, resulting in increased surface doses and inaccuracies in determine the dose in the patient. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the interaction of 6 and 15 MV photons with eight different couch inserts. The presented results enable direct comparison of the attenuation properties of the studied couchtops. With a direct posterior beam the maximum attenuations reach 3.6% and 2.4% with 6 and 15 M V, respectively. The measured maximum attenuation by a couchtop with an oblique gantry angle was 10.8% and 7.4% at 6 and 15 MV energies, respectively. The skin-sparing effect was decreased substantially with every couchtop. The highest increases in surface doses were recorded to be four- and threefold, as compared to the direct posterior open field surface doses of 6 and 15 MV, respectively. In conclusion, the carbon fiber tabletops decrease the skin-sparing effect of megavoltage photon energies. The increased beam attenuation and skin doses should be taken into account in the process of treatment planning.
PACS number: 07.90.+c