Journal of Medical Physics
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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 198-204

Effect of low-density heterogeneities in telecobalt therapy and validation of dose calculation algorithm of a treatment planning system

1 Department of Radiotherapy, S. N. Medical College, Agra, India
2 Radiological Physics and Advisory Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Anushaktinagar, Mumbai, India

Correspondence Address:
Anuj Kumar
Department of Radiotherapy, S. N. Medical College, Agra - 282 002, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-6203.89967

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Telecobalt machines are still prominently used for the treatment of a variety of cancer cases in developing countries. The human body is a heterogeneous composition of variety of tissues and cavities which vary widely in their physical and radiological properties. The presence of heterogeneities in the path of telecobalt beam presents an altered dose distribution in the region of clinical interests. A computerized treatment planning system (TPS) is generally used for calculating the dose distribution in the patient. Experimental measurements were carried out in a telecobalt beam with the objectives to study the effects of low-density heterogeneities and to verify the ability of the ASHA radiotherapy TPS in predicting the altered dose distribution along the central axis and off-axis of the beam. Locally available kailwood was tested for its lung equivalence and measurements were carried out in a polymethyl methacrylate phantom by introducing lung equivalent and air gap heterogeneities. A comparison of experimentally measured and TPS calculated dose values indicates that the TPS overestimates the dose by 11.6% in lung equivalent (kailwood) heterogeneity along the central axis. Similarly, it was found that the TPS overestimates the dose by 3.9% and 5.9%, respectively, with air heterogeneity of 1.0 and 2.0 cm. While testing the adequacy of TPS in off-axis region, it was found that the TPS calculation does not indicate the widening of the beam profile in the low-density heterogeneity region. This study suggests that the effective path length based algorithm of the ASHA radiotherapy TPS is unable to achieve the recommended 3% accuracy of clinical dose calculation in heterogeneous media.

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