Impact of spot charge inaccuracies in IMPT treatments

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Spot charge is one parameter of pencil-beam scanning dose delivery system whose accuracy is typically high but whose required value has not been investigated. In this work we quantify the dose impact of spot charge inaccuracies on the dose distribution in patients. Knowing the effect of charge errors is relevant for conventional proton machines, as well as for new generation proton machines, where ensuring accurate charge may be challenging.


Through perturbation of spot charge in treatment plans for seven patients and a phantom, we evaluated the dose impact of absolute (up to 5× 106 protons) and relative (up to 30%) charge errors. We investigated the dependence on beam width by studying scenarios with small, medium and large beam sizes. Treatment plan statistics included the Γ passing rate, dose-volume-histograms and dose differences.


The allowable absolute charge error for small spot plans was about 2× 106 protons. Larger limits would be allowed if larger spots were used. For relative errors, the maximum allowable error size for small, medium and large spots was about 13%, 8% and 6% for small, medium and large spots, respectively.


Dose distributions turned out to be surprisingly robust against random spot charge perturbation. Our study suggests that ensuring spot charge errors as small as 1–2% as is commonly aimed at in conventional proton therapy machines, is clinically not strictly needed.

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