Sensitive volume effects on Monte Carlo calculated ion chamber response in magnetic fields

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Abstract

Purpose

The development of magnetic resonance-guided radiation therapy (MRgRT) necessitates accurate Monte Carlo (MC) models of ion chambers for computing ion chamber corrections to compensate for the presence of the magnetic field. This study evaluates the sensitivity of the ion chamber dose response in a magnetic field on the collection volume used in the MC simulation.

Methods

The EGSnrc system's egs_chamber application is used with a recently developed and validated magnetic field transport code. The calculated dose to the sensitive volume of the chamber per unit incident photon fluence, normalized to that at 0 T, is evaluated as a function of magnetic field for the PTW 30013, PTW 31006, PTW 31010, Exradin A12S, and Exradin A1SL chambers. The sensitive region is varied by excluding the volume corresponding to either 0, 0.5, or 1 mm of distance away from the stem. The photon field, magnetic field, and ion chamber are all oriented perpendicular to each other as in the majority of published experimental works.

Results

The calculations for a Co-60 source demonstrate that variations from the 0 mm simulations are on the order of several percent with a maximum deviation, occurring at 0.5 T, of 1.75 ± 0.03% and 3.39 ± 0.06% for the 0.5 mm or 1 mm simulations, respectively, for a 0.057 cm3 A1SL chamber. Larger volume chambers showed smaller, but still non-negligible, variations. Simulations of the A1SL chamber with a 7 MV photon source, corresponding to the Elekta MR-linac machine, demonstrate that the effect is slightly reduced but still persists with a maximum deviation of 1.97 ± 0.08% for the 1 mm reduction.

Conclusions

Usually, the geometric sensitive volume of the ion chamber is used in MC calculation as a substitute for the potentially unknown, smaller, true collection volume (governed by the complex electric field distribution inside the chamber). The calculations in this study demonstrate that even a small variation in simulated volume can lead to fairly large variations in the MC calculated ion chamber response in a magnetic field. This is an important effect that must be addressed to ensure proper calibration of MRgRT machines using MC ion chamber correction factors. This effect may play a role, even where there is no magnetic field, in small-field dosimetry when volume averaging effect are important.

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