Synchronized high-speed scintillation imaging of proton beams, generated by a gantry-mounted synchrocyclotron, on a pulse-by-pulse basis

Med Phys. 2022 Sep;49(9):6209-6220. doi: 10.1002/mp.15826. Epub 2022 Jul 10.


Background: With the emergence of more complex and novel proton delivery techniques, there is a need for quality assurance tools with high spatiotemporal resolution to conveniently measure the spatial and temporal properties of the beam. In this context, scintillation-based dosimeters, if synchronized with the radiation beam and corrected for ionization quenching, are appealing.

Purpose: To develop a synchronized high-speed scintillation imaging system for characterization and verification of the proton therapy beams on a pulse-by-pulse basis.

Materials and methods: A 30 cm × 30 cm × 5 cm block of BC-408 plastic scintillator placed in a light-tight housing was irradiated by proton beams generated by a Mevion S250 proton therapy synchrocyclotron. A high-speed camera system, placed perpendicular to the beam direction and facing the scintillator, was synchronized to the accelerator's pulses to capture images. Opening and closing of the camera's shutter was controlled by setting a proper time delay and exposure time, respectively. The scintillation signal was recorded as a set of two-dimensional (2D) images. Empirical correction factors were applied to the images to correct for the nonuniformity of the pixel sensitivity and quenching of the scintillator. Proton range and modulation were obtained from the corrected images.

Results: The camera system was able to capture all data on a pulse-by-pulse basis at a rate of ∼504 frames per second. The applied empirical correction method for ionization quenching was effective and the corrected composite image provided a 2D map of dose distribution. The measured range (depth of distal 90%) through scintillation imaging agreed within 1.2 mm with that obtained from ionization chamber measurement.

Conclusion: A high-speed camera system capable of capturing scintillation signals from individual proton pulses was developed. The scintillation imaging system is promising for rapid proton beam characterization and verification.

Keywords: imaging; proton therapy; quality assurance; scintillation; synchrocyclotron.

MeSH terms

  • Cyclotrons
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Proton Therapy*
  • Protons
  • Radiometry
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Scintillation Counting* / methods


  • Protons