Comparison of inhomogeneity correction algorithms in small photon fields

Andrew O. Jones, Indra J. Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

93 Scopus citations


Algorithms such as convolution superposition, Batho, and equivalent pathlength which were originally developed and validated for conventional treatments under conditions of electronic equilibrium using relatively large fields greater than 5 × 5 cm2 are routinely employed for inhomogeneity corrections. Modern day treatments using intensity modulated radiation therapy employ small beamlets characterized by the resolution of the multileaf collimator. These beamlets, in general, do not provide electronic equilibrium even in a homogeneous medium, and these effects are exaggerated in media with inhomogenieties. Monte Carlo simulations are becoming a tool of choice in understanding the dosimetry of small photon fields as they encounter low density media. In this study, depth dose data from the Monte Carlo simulations are compared to the results of the convolution superposition, Batho, and equivalent pathlength algorithms. The central axis dose within the low-density inhomogeneity as calculated by Monte Carlo simulation and convolution superposition decreases for small field sizes whereas it increases using the Batho and equivalent pathlength algorithms. The dose perturbation factor (DPF) is defined as the ratio of dose to a point within the inhomogeneity to the same point in a homogeneous phantom. The dose correction factor is defined as the ratio of dose calculated by an algorithm at a point to the Monte Carlo derived dose at the same point, respectively. DPF is noted to be significant for small fields and low density for all algorithms. Comparisons of the algorithms with Monte Carlo simulations is reflected in the DCF, which is close to 1.0 for the convolution-superposition algorithm. The Batho and equivalent path-length algorithms differ significantly from Monte Carlo simulation for most field sizes and densities. Convolution superposition shows better agreement with Monte Carlo data versus the Batho or equivalent pathlength corrections. As the field size increases the DCF's for all algorithms converge toward 1.0. The largest differences in DCF are at the interface where changes in electron transport are greatest. For a 6 MV photon beam, electronic equilibrium is restored at field sizes above 3 cm diameter and all of the algorithms predict dose in and beyond the inhomogeneous region equally well. For accurate dosimetry of small fields within and near inhomogeneities, however, simple algorithms such as Batho and equivalent pathlength should be avoided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-776
Number of pages11
JournalMedical physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Inhomogeneity correction
  • Lung
  • Monte Carlo
  • Small field dosimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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