Suppression of dark current radiation in step-and-shoot intensity modulated radiation therapy by the initial pulse-forming network

Chee Wai Cheng, Indra J. Das, Alois M. Ndlovu

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The effect of the initial pulse forming network (IPFN) on the suppression of dark current is investigated for a Siemens Primus accelerator. The dark current produces a spurious radiation, which is referred to as dark current radiation (DCR) in this study. In the step-and-shoot delivery of an intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), the DCR could be of some concern for whole body dose along with leakage radiation through collimator jaws or multileaf collimator. By adjusting the IPFN-to-PFN ratio to >0.8, the DCR can be measured with an ion chamber during the "PAUSE" state of the accelerator in the IMRT mode. For 15 MV x rays, the magnitude of the DCR is approximately equal to 0.7% of the dose at dmax for a 10 × 10 cm2 field. The DCR has a similar central axis depth dose as a 15 MV beam as determined from a water phantom scan. When the IPFN-to-PFN ratio is lowered to <0.8, no DCR is detected. For low energy x rays (6 MV), no DCR is detected regardless of the IPFN-to-PFN ratio. Although the DCR is studied only for the Siemens Primus model accelerator, the same precaution applies to other models of modern accelerators from other vendors. Due to the large number of field segments used in a step-and-shoot IMRT, it is imperative therefore, that dark current evaluation be part of machine commissioning and annual calibration for high-energy photon beams. Should DCR be detected, the medical physicist should work with a service engineer to rectify the problem. In view of DCR and whole body dose, low-energy photon beams are advisable for IMRT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1974-1979
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2002



  • Dark current radiation
  • IMRT
  • Machine commissioning
  • Whole body dose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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