The impact of water temperature on the measurement of absolute dose
Islam, Naveed Mehdi
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To standardize reference dosimetry in radiation therapy, Task Group 51 (TG 51) of American Association of Physicist’s in Medicine (AAPM) recommends that dose calibration measurements be made in a water tank at a depth of 10 cm and at a reference geometry. Methodologies are provided for calculating various correction factors to be applied in calculating the absolute dose. However the protocol does not specify the water temperature to be used. In practice, the temperature of water during dosimetry may vary considerably between independent sessions and different centers. In this work the effect of water temperature on absolute dosimetry has been investigated. Density of water varies with temperature, which in turn may impact the beam attenuation and scatter properties. Furthermore, due to thermal expansion or contraction air volume inside the chamber may change. All of these effects can result in a change in the measurement. Dosimetric measurements were made using a Farmer type ion chamber on a Varian Linear Accelerator for 6 MV and 23 MV photon energies for temperatures ranging from 10 to 40 °C. A thermal insulation was designed for the water tank in order to maintain relatively stable temperature over the duration of the experiment. Dose measured at higher temperatures were found to be consistently higher by a very small magnitude. Although the differences in dose were less than the uncertainty in each measurement, a linear regression of the data suggests that the trend is statistically significant with p-values of 0.002 and 0.013 for 6 and 23 MV beams respectively. For a 10 degree difference in water phantom temperatures, which is a realistic deviation across clinics, the final calculated reference dose can differ by 0.24% or more. To address this effect, first a reference temperature (e.g.22 °C) can be set as the standard; subsequently a correction factor can be implemented for deviations from this reference. Such a correction factor is expected to be of similar magnitude as existing TG 51 recommended correction factors.