Monte Carlo evaluation of CTD(infinity) in infinitely long cylinders of water, polyethylene and PMMA with diameters from 10 mm to 500 mm

Med Phys. 2008 Jun;35(6):2424-31. doi: 10.1118/1.2921829.


Monte Carlo simulations were used to evaluate the radiation dose to infinitely long cylinders of water, polyethylene, and poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA) from 10 to 500 mm in diameter. Radiation doses were computed by simulating a 10 mm divergent primary beam striking the cylinder at z = 0, and the scattered radiation in the -z and +z directions was integrated out to infinity. Doses were assessed using the total energy deposited divided by the mass of the 10-mm-thick volume of material in the primary beam. This approach is consistent with the notion of the computed tomography dose index (CTDI) integrated over infinite z, which is equivalent to the dose near the center of an infinitely long CT scan. Monoenergetic x-ray beams were studied from 5 to 140 keV, allowing polyenergetic x-ray spectra to be evaluated using a weighted average. The radiation dose for a 10-mm-thick CT slice was assessed at the center, edge, and over the entire diameter of the phantom. The geometry of a commercial CT scanner was simulated, and the computed results were in good agreement with measured doses. The absorbed dose in water for 120 kVp x-ray spectrum with no bow tie filter for a 50 mm cylinder diameter was about 1.2 mGy per mGy air kerma at isocenter for both the peripheral and center regions, and dropped to 0.84 mGy/mGy for a 500-mm-diam water phantom at the periphery, where the corresponding value for the center location was 0.19 mGy/mGy. The influence of phantom composition was studied. For a diameter of 100 mm, the dose coefficients were 1.23 for water, 1.02 for PMMA, and 0.94 for polyethylene (at 120 kVp). For larger diameter phantoms, the order changed-for a 400 mm phantom, the dose coefficient of polyethylene (0.25) was greater than water (0.21) and PMMA (0.16). The influence of the head and body bow tie filters was also studied. For the peripheral location, the dose coefficients when no bow tie filter was used were high (e.g., for a water phantom at 120 kVp at a diameter of 300 mm, the dose coefficient was 0.97). The body bow tie filter reduces this value to 0.62, and the head bow tie filter (which is not actually designed to be used for a 300 mm object) reduces the dose coefficient to 0.42. The dose in CT is delivered both by the absorption of primary and scattered x-ray photons, and at the center of a water cylinder the ratio of scatter to primary (SPR) doses increased steadily with cylinder diameter. For water, a 120 kVp spectrum and a cylinder diameter of 200 mm, the SPR was 4, and this value grew to 9 for a diameter of 350 mm and to over 16 for a 500-mm-diam cylinder. A freely available spreadsheet was developed to allow the computation of radiation dose as a function of object diameter (10-500 mm), composition (water, polyethylene, PMMA), and beam energy (10-140 keV, 40-140 kVp).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Monte Carlo Method*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Polyethylene / chemistry*
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate / chemistry*
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Water
  • Polyethylene
  • Polymethyl Methacrylate