Megavoltage x-ray skin dose variation with an angle using grid carbon fibre couch tops
It is well known that a skin dose from high-energy x-ray radiation varies with the angle of beam incidence or the presence of a radiotherapy linear accelerator couch top material. This note investigates changes produced to the skin dose from a Varian carbon fibre grid couch top at differing angles of incidence for 6 MV x-rays as is often the case clinically. Results have shown that the skin dose can easily be measured using an EBT Gafchromic film whereby the delivered skin dose can be quantified to a high level of spatial resolution, not easily achieved with other skin dose detectors. Results have shown a significant increase in the skin dose specifically at the point of a cross-sectional carbon fibre grid. Values in % of the skin dose increased from approximately 27% (an open area within a 10 cm × 10 cm field) up to 55% (same field size) at the centre of the carbon fibre mesh strip (0° incidence). This is compared to 19% of the skin dose for an open field of a 10 cm × 10 cm beam without the couch material present. At larger angles similar effects occur with values changing from 52% to 75% (60°, 10 cm × 10 cm) in the open area and under the grid, respectively. This produces a wave effect for the skin dose. The average skin dose magnitude increases with the angle of incidence of the beam, ranging from 37.5% to 66% from 0° to 60° (10 × 10 cm), respectively. The symmetric wave nature of the skin dose profile skews to deliver an increased dose on the posterior side of the carbon fibre grid as the angle of incidence increases. Simulated fractional dose delivery on a phantom has shown that over 30 fractions the wave nature of the delivered skin dose is minimized due to the random nature of most patient positioning on the treatment couch. However, some variations are still present as the ratio of the open to grid area is approximately 4:1 and the dose spread is not necessarily completely averaged during a typical fractionated radiotherapy treatment. As such, if the treatment type results in a more rigorously positioned patient on the treatment couch, the wave nature of skin dose delivery may need to be taken into account.