Radiochromic film calibration for low-energy seed brachytherapy dose measurement

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Radiochromic film dosimetry is typically performed for high energy photons and moderate doses characterizing external beam radiotherapy (XRT). The purpose of this study was to investigate the accuracy of previously established film calibration procedures used in XRT when applied to low-energy, seed-based brachytherapy at higher doses, and to determine necessary modifications to achieve similar accuracy in absolute dose measurements.


Gafchromic EBT3 film was used to measure radiation doses upwards of 35 Gy from 75 kVp, 200 kVp, 6 MV, and (˜28 keV) I-125 photon sources. For the latter irradiations a custom phantom was built to hold a single I-125 seed. Film pieces were scanned with an Epson 10000XL flatbed scanner and the resulting 48-bit RGB TIFF images were analyzed using both FilmQA Pro software and MATLAB. Calibration curves relating dose and optical density via a rational functional form for all three color channels at each irradiation energy were determined with and without the inclusion of uncertainties in the measured optical densities and dose values. The accuracy of calibration curve variations obtained using piecewise fitting, a reduced film measurement area for I-125 irradiation, and a reduced number of dose levels was also investigated. The energy dependence of the film lot used was also analyzed by calculating normalized optical density values.


Slight differences were found in the resulting calibration curves for the various fitting methods used. The accuracy of the calibration curves was found to improve at low doses and worsen at high doses when including uncertainties in optical densities and doses, which may better represent the variability that could be seen in film optical density measurements. When exposing the films to doses > 8 Gy, two-segment piecewise fitting was found to be necessary to achieve similar accuracies in absolute dose measurements as when using smaller dose ranges. When reducing the film measurement area for the I-125 irradiations, the accuracy of the calibration curve was degraded due to the presence of localized film heterogeneities. No degradation in the calibration curves was found when reducing the number of calibration points down to only 4, but with piecewise fitting, 6 calibration points as well as a blank film are required. Variations due to photon energy in film optical density of up to 3% were found above doses of 2 Gy.


A modified procedure for performing EBT3 film calibration was established for use with low-energy brachytherapy seeds and high dose exposures. The energy dependence between 6 MV and I-125 photons is significant such that film calibrations should be done with an appropriately low-energy source when performing low-energy brachytherapy dose measurements. Two-segment piecewise fitting with the inclusion of errors in measured optical density as well as dose was found to result in the most accurate calibration curves. Above doses of 1 Gy, absolute dose measurements can be made with an accuracy of 1.6% for 6 MV beams and 5.7% for I-125 seed exposures if using the I-125 source for calibration, or 2.3% if using the 75 kVp photon beam for calibration.

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