The purpose of this study was to evaluate proton depth dose perturbation caused by a radio-opaque hydrogel fiducial marker. Electronic proton stopping powers in the hydrogel were calculated for energies 0.5–250 MeV, and Monte Carlo simulations were generated of hydrogel vs. gold markers placed at various water phantom depths in a generic proton beam. Across the studied energy range, the gel/water stopping power ratio was 1.0146 to 1.0160. In the Monte Carlo simulation, the hydrogel marker caused no discernible perturbation of the proton percent depth-dose (PDD) curve. In contrast, the gold marker caused dose reductions of as much as 20% and dose shadowing regions as long as 6.5 cm. In contrast to gold markers, the radio-opaque hydrogel marker causes negligible proton depth dose perturbation. This factor may be taken into consideration for image-guided proton therapy at facilities with suitable imaging modalities.
PACS number: 87.55.Qr