Factors influencing the accuracy of beam range estimation in proton therapy using prompt gamma emission

F. M. F. C. Janssen*, G. Landry, P. Cambraia Lopes, G. Dedes, J. Smeets, D. R. Schaart, K. Parodi, F. Verhaegen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In-vivo imaging is a strategy to monitor the range of protons inside the patient during radiation treatment. A possible method of in-vivo imaging is detection of secondary 'prompt' gamma (PG) photons outside the body, which are produced by inelastic proton-nuclear interactions inside the patient. In this paper, important parameters influencing the relationship between the PG profile and percentage depth dose (PDD) in a uniform cylindrical phantom are explored. Monte Carlo simulations are performed with the new Geant4 based code TOPAS for mono-energetic proton pencil beams (range: 100-250 MeV) and an idealized PG detector. PG depth profiles are evaluated using the inflection point on a sigmoid fit in the fall-off region of the profile. A strong correlation between the inflection point and the proton range determined from the PDD is found for all conditions. Variations between 1.5 mm and 2.7 mm in the distance between the proton range and the inflection point are found when either the mass density, phantom diameter, or detector acceptance angle is changed. A change in cut-off energy of the detector could induce a range difference of maximum 4 mm. Applying time-of-flight discrimination during detection, changing the primary energy of the beam or changing the elemental composition of the tissue affects the accuracy of the range prediction by less than 1 mm. The results indicate that the PG signal is rather robust to many parameter variations, but millimetre accurate range monitoring requires all medium and detector properties to be carefully taken into account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4427-4441
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2014


  • prompt gamma
  • proton therapy
  • beam range accuracy


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