Imaging of prompt gamma rays emitted during delivery of clinical proton beams with a Compton camera: feasibility studies for range verification

Phys Med Biol. 2015 Sep 21;60(18):7085-99. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/60/18/7085. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the ability of a prototype Compton camera (CC) to measure prompt gamma rays (PG) emitted during delivery of clinical proton pencil beams for prompt gamma imaging (PGI) as a means of providing in vivo verification of the delivered proton radiotherapy beams. A water phantom was irradiated with clinical 114 MeV and 150 MeV proton pencil beams. Up to 500 cGy of dose was delivered per irradiation using clinical beam currents. The prototype CC was placed 15 cm from the beam central axis and PGs from 0.2 MeV up to 6.5 MeV were measured during irradiation. From the measured data (2D) images of the PG emission were reconstructed. (1D) profiles were extracted from the PG images and compared to measured depth dose curves of the delivered proton pencil beams. The CC was able to measure PG emission during delivery of both 114 MeV and 150 MeV proton beams at clinical beam currents. 2D images of the PG emission were reconstructed for single 150 MeV proton pencil beams as well as for a 5 × 5 cm mono-energetic layer of 114 MeV pencil beams. Shifts in the Bragg peak (BP) range were detectable on the 2D images. 1D profiles extracted from the PG images show that the distal falloff of the PG emission profile lined up well with the distal BP falloff. Shifts as small as 3 mm in the beam range could be detected from the 1D PG profiles with an accuracy of 1.5 mm or better. However, with the current CC prototype, a dose of 400 cGy was required to acquire adequate PG signal for 2D PG image reconstruction. It was possible to measure PG interactions with our prototype CC during delivery of proton pencil beams at clinical dose rates. Images of the PG emission could be reconstructed and shifts in the BP range were detectable. Therefore PGI with a CC for in vivo range verification during proton treatment delivery is feasible. However, improvements in the prototype CC detection efficiency and reconstruction algorithms are necessary to make it a clinically viable PGI system.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Diagnostic Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Gamma Rays*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • Proton Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Proton Therapy / methods*
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Water