To implement and evaluate a novel and fast method for proton range verification by using a planar scintillator and step wedge.Methods
A homogenous proton pencil beam plan with 35 energies was designed and delivered to a 2D flat scintillator with a step wedge. The measurement was repeated 15 times (3 different days, 5 times per day). The scintillator image was smoothed, the Bragg peak and distal fall off regions were fitted by an analytical equation, and the proton range was calculated using simple trigonometry. The accuracy of this method was verified by comparing the measured ranges to those obtained using an ionization chamber and a scanning water tank, the gold standard. The reproducibility was evaluated by comparing the ranges over 15 repeated measurements. The sensitivity was evaluated by delivering to same beam to the system with a film inserted under the wedge.Results
The range accuracy of all 35 proton energies measured over 3 days was within 0.2 mm. The reproducibility in 15 repeated measurements for all 35 proton ranges was ±0.045 mm. The sensitivity to range variation is 0.1 mm for the worst case. This efficient procedure permits measurement of 35 proton ranges in less than 3 min. The automated data processing produces results immediately. The setup of this system took less than 5 min. The time saving by this new method is about two orders of magnitude when compared with the time for water tank range measurements.Conclusions
A novel method using a scintillator with a step wedge to measure the proton range was implemented and evaluated. This novel method is fast and sensitive, and the proton range measured by this method was accurate and highly reproducible.