Dosimetry studies on prototype 241Am sources for brachytherapy

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1987 Jun;13(6):897-905. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(87)90105-2.


Sealed sources of 241Am emit primarily 60 keV photons which, because of multiple Compton scattering, produce dose distributions in water that are comparable to those from 226Ra or 137Cs. However, americium gamma rays can be shielded by thin layers of high atomic number materials since the half value layer thickness is only 1/8th of a mm of lead for americium gamma rays as compared to a value of 12 mm for 226Ra gamma rays. This may allow effective in vivo shielding of critical organs, for example; the bladder can be partially shielded by hypaque solution, and the rectum and sigmoid colon by barium sulfate. In addition, the exposure to medical personnel involved in intracavitary application and patient care may be reduced substantially by the use of relatively thin lead aprons and light weight, portable shields. To investigate the feasibility of 241Am sources for intracavitary irradiation, dosimetry studies on prototype 241Am sources have been performed and a computer model for the determination of dose distributions around encapsulated cylindrical sources of 241Am has been developed and tested. Results of dosimetry measurements using ionization chambers, lithium fluoride thermoluminescent dosimeters, a scanning scintillation probe, and film dosimetry, confirm theoretical predictions that these sources can deliver dose rates adequate for intracavitary irradiation. Further dosimetry measurements in simulated clinical situations using lead foils and test tubes filled with hypaque or barium sulfate, confirm the predicted effectiveness of in vivo shielding which can be readily achieved with 241Am sources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Americium / therapeutic use*
  • Brachytherapy*
  • Humans
  • Radiation Protection
  • Radiometry / instrumentation
  • Radiotherapy Dosage


  • Americium