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PURPOSE: 1) To describe the characteristics of pencil beam proton dose deposition kernels in a homogenous medium using a novel parameterization. 2) To propose a method utilizing this novel parametrization to reduce the measurements and pre-computation required in commissioning a pencil beam proton therapy system. METHODS: Using beam data from a clinical, pencil beam proton therapy center, Monte Carlo simulations were performed to characterize the dose depositions at a range of energies from 100.32 to 226.08 MeV in 3.6MeV steps. At each energy, the beam is defined at the surface of the phantom by a two-dimensional Normal distribution. Using FLUKA, the in-medium dose distribution is calculated in 200×200×350 mm cube with 1 mm(3) tally volumes. The calculated dose distribution in each 200×200 slice perpendicular to the beam axis is then characterized using a symmetric alpha-stable distribution centered on the beam axis. This results in two parameters, α and γ, that completely describe shape of the distribution. In addition, the total dose deposited on each slice is calculated. The alpha-stable parameters are plotted as function of the depth in-medium, providing a representation of dose deposition along the pencil beam. We observed that these graphs are isometric through a scaling of both abscissa and ordinate map the curves. RESULTS: Using interpolation of the scaling factors of two source curves representative of different beam energies, we predicted the parameters of a third curve at an intermediate energy. The errors are quantified by the maximal difference and provide a fit better than previous methods. The maximal energy difference between the source curves generating identical curves was 21.14MeV. CONCLUSION: We have introduced a novel method to parameterize the in-phantom properties of pencil beam proton dose depositions. For the case of the Knoxville IBA system, no more than nine pencil beams have to be fully characterized.

Original publication




Journal article


Med Phys

Publication Date





Interpolation, Monte Carlo methods, Proton therapy, Protons