Proton beams used for radiotherapy have potential for superior sparing of normal tissue, although range uncertainties are among the main limiting factors in the accuracy of dose delivery. The aim of this study was to benchmark an N-vinylpyrrolidone based polymer gel to perform three-dimensional measurement of geometric proton beam characteristics and especially to test its suitability as a range probe in combination with an anthropomorphic phantom. For single proton pencil beams as well as for 3×3cm2 mono-energy layers depth dose profiles, lateral dose distribution at different depths and proton range were evaluated in simple cubic gel phantoms at different energies from 75 to 115MeV and different dose levels. In addition, a 90MeV mono-energetic beam was delivered to an anthropomorphic 3D printed head phantom, which was filled with gel. Subsequently, all phantoms underwent magnetic resonance imaging using an axial pixel size of 0.68-0.98mm and with slice thicknesses of 2 or 3mm to derive a 3-dimensional distribution of the T2 relaxation time, which correlates with radiation dose. Indices describing lateral dose distribution and proton range were compared against predictions from a treatment planning system (TPS, for cubic and head phantoms) and Monte Carlo simulations (MC, for the head phantom) after manual rigid co-registration with the T2 relaxation time datasets. For all pencil beams, the FWHM agreement with TPS was better than 1mm or 7%. For the mono-energetic layer, the agreement with TPS in this respect was even better than 0.3mm in each case. With respect to range, results from gel measurements differed no more than 0.9mm (1.6%) from values predicted by TPS. In case of the anthropomorphic phantom, deviations with respect to a nominal range of about 61mm as well as in FWHM were slightly higher, namely within 1.0mm and 1.1mm respectively. Average deviations between gel and TPS/MC were similar (-0.3mm±0.4mm/-0.2±0.5mm). In conclusion, polymer gel dosimetry was found to be a valuable tool to determine geometric proton beam properties three-dimensionally and with high spatial resolution in simple cubic as well as in a more complex anthropomorphic phantom. Post registration range errors of the order of 1mm could be achieved. The additional registration uncertainty (95%) was 1mm.
Keywords: Polymer gel dosimetry; Proton therapy; Range uncertainty.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier GmbH.