Quality assurance of proton beams using a multilayer ionization chamber system

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Purpose:The measurement of percentage depth-dose (PDD) distributions for the quality assurance of clinical proton beams is most commonly performed with a computerized water tank dosimetry system with ionization chamber, commonly referred to as water tank. Although the accuracy and reproducibility of this method is well established, it can be time-consuming if a large number of measurements are required. In this work the authors evaluate the linearity, reproducibility, sensitivity to field size, accuracy, and time-savings of another system: the Zebra, a multilayer ionization chamber system.Methods:The Zebra, consisting of 180 parallel-plate ionization chambers with 2 mm resolution, was used to measure depth-dose distributions. The measurements were performed for scattered and scanned proton pencil beams of multiple energies delivered by the Hitachi PROBEAT synchrotron-based delivery system. For scattered beams, the Zebra-measured depth-dose distributions were compared with those measured with the water tank. The principal descriptors extracted for comparisons were: range, the depth of the distal 90% dose; spread-out Bragg peak (SOBP) length, the region between the proximal 95% and distal 90% dose; and distal-dose fall off (DDF), the region between the distal 80% and 20% dose. For scanned beams, the Zebra-measured ranges were compared with those acquired using a Bragg peak chamber during commissioning.Results:The Zebra demonstrated better than 1% reproducibility and monitor unit linearity. The response of the Zebra was found to be sensitive to radiation field sizes greater than 12.5 × 12.5 cm; hence, the measurements used to determine accuracy were performed using a field size of 10 × 10 cm. For the scattered proton beams, PDD distributions showed 1.5% agreement within the SOBP, and 3.8% outside. Range values agreed within −0.1 ± 0.4 mm, with a maximum deviation of 1.2 mm. SOBP length values agreed within 0 ± 2 mm, with a maximum deviation of 6 mm. DDF values agreed within 0.3 ± 0.1 mm, with a maximum deviation of 0.6 mm. For the scanned proton pencil beams, Zebra and Bragg peak chamber range values demonstrated agreement of 0.0 ± 0.3 mm with a maximum deviation of 1.3 mm. The setup and measurement time for all Zebra measurements was 3 and 20 times less, respectively, compared to the water tank measurements.Conclusions:Our investigation shows that the Zebra can be useful not only for fast but also for accurate measurements of the depth-dose distributions of both scattered and scanned proton beams. The analysis of a large set of measurements shows that the commonly assessed beam quality parameters obtained with the Zebra are within the acceptable variations specified by the manufacturer for our delivery system.

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