A study of photoneutron spectra around high-energy medical linear accelerators using Monte Carlo simulations and measurements

by Robert Maglieri

Institution: McGill University
Department: Medical Physics Unit
Degree: MS
Year: 2015
Keywords: Physics - Radiation
Record ID: 2062033
Full text PDF: http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/thesisfile130554.pdf


During high-energy radiotherapy treatments, neutrons are produced in the head of the linac through photonuclear interactions. This has been a concern for many years as photoneutrons contribute to the accepted, yet unwanted, out-of-field doses that pose an iatrogenic risk to patients and an occupational risk to personnel. Presently, in-room neutron measurements are difficult and time-consuming and have traditionally been carried out using Bonner spheres with activation foils and TLDs. In this work, a new detector, the Nested Neutron Spectrometer (NNS) is investigated for use in radiotherapy bunkers. It is designed for easy handling and is more practical than the traditional Bonner spheres providing a quicker and more efficient method to measure neutron spectra. Operated in current mode, the NNS was evaluated around a medical linear accelerator at the Montreal General hospital by: determining the performance, comparing with bubble detectors and comparing with Monte Carlo simulations.Firstly, the performance of the NNS was evaluated in high dose-rate environments. Reproducibility, linearity and dose-rate tests showed, with coefficient of variation less than 1%, that the NNS consistently reproduced the same raw measured data in each case. Secondly, equivalent doses measured by bubble detectors were compared with those measured by NNS. Absolute differences ranged from 1% in the treatment room to 50% in the maze. Finally, there was good overall agreement between Monte Carlo simulated and NNS measured spectra at various treatment room locations. Spectral characteristics were similar except for a discrepancy in the peak heights. These tests validate the use of the NNS in radiotherapy.Additionally, the NNS was used to measure neutron spectra around a new linear accelerator operated in flattening filter free (FFF) mode. Our measurements revealed a decrease in total fluence, neutron source strength and equivalent dose of approximately 35 - 40% across the treatment room for measurements in FFF mode compared with those made in flattening filter mode for the same number of MU. En radiothérapie, l'utilisation de photons à haute énergie produit des réactions photonucléaires dans les composantes de l'accélérateur linéaire, ce qui entraine la création de neutrons. Toutefois, ces neutrons exposent le patient à une dose involontaire et augmentent le risque d'absorption de radiation pour le personnel hospitalier. Présentement, la méthode Bonner est utilisée pour mesurer les spectres de neutrons produits lors de la radiothérapie. Cependant, cette technique requiert du temps et plusieurs étapes, puisqu'elle utilise des feuilles d'activation ou des «Thermoluminescent Detectors» (TLD). Un nouveau spectromètre, le «Nested Neutron Spectrometer» (NNS), se distingue toutefois des autres détecteurs de neutrons en raison de sa conception pratique qui permet d'obtenir des données rapidement et efficacement. Il fut donc pertinent d'évaluer le NNS autour d'un accélérateur linéaire à l'Hôpital Général de Montréal, et ce, selon trois méthodes : en…