Commissioning a small-field biological irradiator using point, 2D, and 3D dosimetry techniques

Joseph Newton, Mark Oldham, Andrew Thomas, Yifan Li, John Adamovics, David G. Kirsch, Shiva Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Purpose: To commission a small-field biological irradiator, the XRad225Cx from Precision x-Ray, Inc., for research use. The system produces a 225 kVp x-ray beam and is equipped with collimating cones that produce both square and circular radiation fields ranging in size from 1 to 40 mm. This work incorporates point, 2D, and 3D measurements to determine output factors (OF), percent-depth-dose (PDD) and dose profiles at multiple depths. Methods: Three independent dosimetry systems were used: ion-chambers (a farmer chamber and a micro-ionisation chamber), 2D EBT2 radiochromic film, and a novel 3D dosimetry system (DLOSPRESAGE). Reference point dose rates and output factors were determined from in-air ionization chamber measurements for fields down to ∼13 mm using the formalism of TG61. PDD, profiles, and output factors at three separate depths (0, 0.5, and 2 cm), were determined for all field sizes from EBT2 film measurements in solid water. Several film PDD curves required a scaling correction, reflecting the challenge of accurate film alignment in very small fields. PDDs, profiles, and output factors were also determined with the 3D DLOSPRESAGE system which generated isotropic 0.2 mm data, in scan times of 20 min. Results: Surface output factors determined by ion-chamber were observed to gradually drop by ∼9 when the field size was reduced from 40 to 13 mm. More dramatic drops were observed for the smallest fields as determined by EBT∼18 and ∼42 for the 2.5 mm and 1 mm fields, respectively. PRESAGE and film output factors agreed well for fields 20 mm (where 3D data were available) with mean deviation of 2.2 (range 1-4). PDD values at 2 cm depth varied from ∼72 for the 40 mm field, down to ∼55 for the 1 mm field. EBT and PRESAGE PDDs agreed within ∼3 in the typical therapy region (1-4 cm). At deeper depths the EBT curves were slightly steeper (2.5 at 5 cm). These results indicate good overall consistency between ion-chamber, EBT2 and PRESAGE measured OFs, PDDs, and profiles. Conclusions: The combination of independent 2D and 3D measurements was found to be valuable to ensure accurate and comprehensive commissioning. Film measurements were time consuming and challenging due to the difficulty of film alignment in small fields. PRESAGE 3D measurements were comprehensive and efficient, because alignment errors are negligible, and all parameters for multiple fields could be obtained from a single dosimeter and scan. However, achieving accurate superficial data (within 4 mm) is not yet feasible due to optical surface artifacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6754-6762
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D dosimetry
  • X-ray irradiator
  • dosimetry
  • small field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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