Quantifying the effect of air gap, depth, and range shifter thickness on TPS dosimetric accuracy in superficial PBS proton therapy

Aurora Affiliations

Radiation Oncology, Aurora BayCare Medical Center


This study quantifies the dosimetric accuracy of a commercial treatment planning system as functions of treatment depth, air gap, and range shifter thickness for superficial pencil beam scanning proton therapy treatments. The RayStation 6 pencil beam and Monte Carlo dose engines were each used to calculate the dose distributions for a single treatment plan with varying range shifter air gaps. Central axis dose values extracted from each of the calculated plans were compared to dose values measured with a calibrated PTW Markus chamber at various depths in RW3 solid water. Dose was measured at 12 depths, ranging from the surface to 5 cm, for each of the 18 different air gaps, which ranged from 0.5 to 28 cm. TPS dosimetric accuracy, defined as the ratio of calculated dose relative to the measured dose, was plotted as functions of depth and air gap for the pencil beam and Monte Carlo dose algorithms. The accuracy of the TPS pencil beam dose algorithm was found to be clinically unacceptable at depths shallower than 3 cm with air gaps wider than 10 cm, and increased range shifter thickness only added to the dosimetric inaccuracy of the pencil beam algorithm. Each configuration calculated with Monte Carlo was determined to be clinically acceptable. Further comparisons of the Monte Carlo dose algorithm to the measured spread-out Bragg Peaks of multiple fields used during machine commissioning verified the dosimetric accuracy of Monte Carlo in a variety of beam energies and field sizes. Discrepancies between measured and TPS calculated dose values can mainly be attributed to the ability (or lack thereof) of the TPS pencil beam dose algorithm to properly model secondary proton scatter generated in the range shifter.

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