Purpose: The magnetic fields of linac-MR systems modify the path of contaminant electrons in photon beams, which alters patient skin dose. To accurately quantify the magnitude of changes in skin dose, the authors use Monte Carlo calculations that incorporate realistic 3D magnetic field models of longitudinal and transverse linac-MR systems.
Methods: Finite element method (FEM) is used to generate complete 3D magnetic field maps for 0.56 T longitudinal and transverse linac-MR magnet assemblies, as well as for representative 0.5 and 1.0 T Helmholtz MRI systems. EGSnrc simulations implementing these 3D magnetic fields are performed. The geometry for the BEAMnrc simulations incorporates the Varian 600C 6 MV linac, magnet poles, the yoke, and the magnetic shields of the linac-MRIs. Resulting phase-space files are used to calculate the central axis percent depth-doses in a water phantom and 2D skin dose distributions for 70 μm entrance and exit layers using DOSXYZnrc. For comparison, skin doses are also calculated in the absence of magnetic field, and using a 1D magnetic field with an unrealistically large fringe field. The effects of photon field size, air gap (longitudinal configuration), and angle of obliquity (transverse configuration) are also investigated.
Results: Realistic modeling of the 3D magnetic fields shows that fringe fields decay rapidly and have a very small magnitude at the linac head. As a result, longitudinal linac-MR systems mostly confine contaminant electrons that are generated in the air gap and have an insignificant effect on electrons produced further upstream. The increase in the skin dose for the longitudinal configuration compared to the zero B-field case varies from ∼1% to ∼14% for air gaps of 5-31 cm, respectively. (All dose changes are reported as a % of D(max).) The increase is also field-size dependent, ranging from ∼3% at 20 × 20 cm(2) to ∼11% at 5 × 5 cm(2). The small changes in skin dose are in contrast to significant increases that are calculated for the unrealistic 1D magnetic field. For the transverse configuration, the entrance skin dose is equal or smaller than that of the zero B-field case for perpendicular beams. For a 10 × 10 cm(2) oblique beam the transverse magnetic field decreases the entry skin dose for oblique angles less than ±20° and increases it by no more than 10% for larger angles up to ±45°. The exit skin dose is increased by 42% for a 10 × 10 cm(2) perpendicular beam, but appreciably drops and approaches the zero B-field case for large oblique angles of incidence.
Conclusions: For longitudinal linac-MR systems only a small increase in the entrance skin dose is predicted, due to the rapid decay of the realistic magnetic fringe fields. For transverse linac-MR systems, changes to the entrance skin dose are small for most scenarios. For the same geometry, on the exit side a fairly large increase is observed for perpendicular beams, but significantly drops for large oblique angles of incidence. The observed effects on skin dose are not expected to limit the application of linac-MR systems in either the longitudinal or transverse configuration.