How much should you worry about contaminant neutrons in spatially fractionated grid radiation therapy?

PLoS One. 2023 Jan 13;18(1):e0280433. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280433. eCollection 2023.


Neutron contamination in radiation therapy is of concern in treatment with high-energy photons (> 10 MV). With the development of new radiotherapy modalities such as spatially fractionated grid radiation therapy (SFGRT) or briefly grid radiotherapy, more studies are required to evaluate the risks associated with neutron contamination. In 15 MV SFGRT, high-Z materials such as lead and cerrobend are used as the block on the tray of linear accelerator (linac) which can probably increase the photoneutron production. On the other hand, the high-dose fractions (10-20 Gy) used in SFGRT can induce high neutron contamination. The current study was devoted to addressing these concerns via compression of neutron fluence (Φn) and ambient dose equivalent ([Formula: see text]) at the patient table and inside the maze between SFGRT and conventional fractionated radiation therapy (CFRT). The main components of the 15 MV Siemens Primus equipped with different grids and located inside a typical radiotherapy bunker were simulated by the MCNPX® Monte Carlo code. Evidence showed that the material used for grid construction does not significantly increase neutron contamination inside the maze. However, at the end of the maze, neutron contamination in SFGRT is significantly higher than in CFRT. In this regard, a delay time of 15 minutes after SFGRT is recommended for all radiotherapy staff before entering the maze. It can be also concluded that [Formula: see text] at the patient table is at least 10 times more pronounced than inside the maze. Therefore, the patient is more at risk of neutrons compared to the staff. The [Formula: see text] at the isocenter in SFGRT with grids made of lead and cerrobend was nearly equal to CFRT. Nevertheless, it was dramatically lower than in CFRT by 30% if the brass grid is used. Accordingly, SFGRT with the brass grid is recommended, from radiation protection aspects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Neutrons
  • Particle Accelerators
  • Photons*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Protection*


  • brass

Grants and funding

This study was funded by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) with grant number 1401-3-101-62423. Dr. Ghazale Geraily received the grant. The funding office had no role in study design, data collection & analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.