The measurement of dose distributions in clinical brachytherapy, for the purpose of quality control, commissioning or dosimetric audit, is challenging and requires development. Radiochromic film dosimetry with a commercial flatbed scanner may be suitable, but careful methodologies are required to control various sources of uncertainty. Triple-channel dosimetry has recently been utilized in external beam radiotherapy to improve the accuracy of film dosimetry, but its use in brachytherapy, with characteristic high maximum doses, steep dose gradients, and small scales, has been less well researched. We investigate the use of advanced film dosimetry techniques for brachytherapy dosimetry, evaluating uncertainties and assessing the mitigation afforded by triple-channel dosimetry. We present results on postirradiation film darkening, lateral scanner effect, film surface perturbation, film active layer thickness, film curling, and examples of the measurement of clinical brachytherapy dose distributions. The lateral scanner effect in brachytherapy film dosimetry can be very significant, up to 23% dose increase at 14 Gy, at ± 9 cm lateral from the scanner axis for simple single-channel dosimetry. Triple-channel dosimetry mitigates the effect, but still limits the useable width of a typical scanner to less than 8 cm at high dose levels to give dose uncertainty to within 1%. Triple-channel dosimetry separates dose and dose-independent signal components, and effectively removes disturbances caused by film thickness variation and surface perturbations in the examples considered in this work. The use of reference dose films scanned simultaneously with brachytherapy test films is recommended to account for scanner variations from calibration conditions. Postirradiation darkening, which is a continual logarithmic function with time, must be taken into account between the reference and test films. Finally, films must be flat when scanned to avoid the Callier-like effects and to provide reliable dosimetric results. We have demonstrated that radiochromic film dosimetry with GAFCHROMIC EBT3 film and a commercial flatbed scanner is a viable method for brachytherapy dose distribution measurement, and uncertainties may be reduced with triple-channel dosimetry and specific film scan and evaluation methodologies.
PACS numbers: 87.55.Qr, 87.56.bg, 87.55.km