Effects of radiation scatter exposure on electrometer dose assessment in orthovoltage radiotherapy
During orthovoltage x-ray radiotherapy dosimetry, normal practice requires the use of a standard ionisation chamber and dedicated electrometer for dosimetry. In ideal conditions, the electrometer is positioned outside the treatment room to eliminate any effects from scatter radiation on dose measurement. However in some older designed rooms, there is no access portal for the chamber cable to run to an “outside” position for the electrometer. As such the electrometer is positioned within the treatment room. This work quantifies the effects on measured charge when this occurs. Results have shown that with the electrometer positioned next to a solid water dosimetry stack and using a large 15 × 15 cm field at 250 kVp x-ray beam energy, charge results can deviate by up to ±17.2% depending on the polarity applied to the chamber compared to readings when the electrometer is outside the treatment room. It is assumed to be due to scatter radiation producing electrons in the amplifying circuit of the electrometer. Results are also shown when the electrometer is shielded by a 4 mm thick lead casing whilst inside the room which removes the scattering effect, providing the best case scenario when the electrometer must remain in the treatment room. Whilst it is well known that an electrometer should not be irradiated (even to scattered radiation), often small kilovoltage or orthovoltage rooms do not have a portal access for an electrometer to go outside. As such it would be recommended for a lead shield to be placed around the electrometer during irradiation if this was to occur to minimize dosimetric inaccuracies which may occur due to scattered radiation effects.