Passive magnetic shielding in MRI-Linac systems
Passive magnetic shielding refers to the use of ferromagnetic materials to redirect magnetic field lines away from vulnerable regions. An application of particular interest to the medical physics community is shielding in MRI systems, especially integrated MRI-linear accelerator (MRI-Linac) systems. In these systems, the goal is not only to minimize the magnetic field in some volume, but also to minimize the impact of the shield on the magnetic fields within the imaging volume of the MRI scanner. In this work, finite element modelling was used to assess the shielding of a side coupled 6 MV linac and resultant heterogeneity induced within the 30 cm diameter of spherical volume (DSV) of a novel 1 Tesla split bore MRI magnet. A number of different shield parameters were investigated; distance between shield and magnet, shield shape, shield thickness, shield length, openings in the shield, number of concentric layers, spacing between each layer, and shield material. Both the in-line and perpendicular MRI-Linac configurations were studie d. By modifying the shield shape around the linac from the starting design of an open ended cylinder, the shielding effect was boosted by approximately 70% whilst the impact on the magnet was simultaneously reduced by approximately 10%. Openings in the shield for the RF port and beam exit were substantial sources of field leakage; however it was demonstrated that shielding could be added around these openings to compensate for this leakage. Layering multiple concentric shield shells was highly effective in the perpendicular configuration, but less so for the in-line configuration. Cautious use of high permeability materials such as Mu-metal can greatly increase the shielding performance in some scenarios. In the perpendicular configuration, magnetic shielding was more effective and the impact on the magnet lower compared with the in-line configuration.