Characterization of Water-Clear Polymeric Gels for Use as Radiotherapy Bolus

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Abstract

Our purpose was to investigate polymeric gels for use as a highly transparent radiotherapy bolus and determine the relevant physical and dosimetric properties. We first quantified tensile properties (maximum stress, strain, and Young modulus) for various polymeric gels, along with a commercial bolus product in order to illustrate the wide variety of potential materials. For a select polymeric gel with tensile properties similar to currently used radiotherapy bolus, we also evaluated mass and electron density, effective atomic number, optical transparency, and percent depth dose in clinical megavoltage photon and electron beams. For this polymeric gel, mass density was 872 ± 12 and 896 ± 13 g/cm3 when measured via weight/volume and computed tomography Hounsfield units, respectively. Electron density was 2.95 ± 0.04 ×1023 electrons/cm3. Adding fused silica (9% by weight) increases density to that of water. The ratio of the effective atomic number to that of water without and with added silica was 0.780 and 0.835 at 1 MeV, 0.767 and 0.826 at 6 MeV, and 0.746 and 0.809 at 20 MeV. Percent depth dose for 6 MV photons was within 2% of water within the first 2.5 cm and after scaling by the density coincided within 1% out to >7 cm. For 6 and 20 MeV electrons, after scaling for density D80% was within 1.3 and 1.5 mm of water, respectively. The high transparency and mechanical flexibility of polymeric gels indicate potential for use as a radiotherapy bolus; differences in density from water may be managed via either using “water equivalent thickness” or by incorporating fused silica into the material.

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