Technical Note: FLASH radiotherapy monitor chamber signal conditioning.
PURPOSE: Recent studies of ultra-high dose rate FLASH radiotherapy show a substantial reduction of damage to normal tissue cells when compared with conventional radiotherapy. Most, if not all, of these FLASH studies have taken place using either custom research equipment or heavily modified linacs with external dosimetric control. To simplify our preclinical research efforts, we wish to deliver FLASH with a minimally modified linac using the internal dosimetric system.
METHODS: To enable the built-in monitor chambers to terminate a FLASH beam, we reversibly modified an Elekta linear accelerator previously fit with a high dose rate electron (HDRE) system to include additional resistance in the signal path from the monitor chambers to the dose control system. To produce the FLASH beam, we altered the energy calibration tables of a decommissioned HDRE beam to functionally produce a photon mode beam current exiting through the electron window of the linac. We then used the machine modifications to assist in beam tuning and to calibrate the monitor chambers for FLASH delivery. We employed a radiochromic film for external dosimetry and preliminary tests of monitor chamber dosimetric stability.
RESULTS: We identified attenuation values and distributions that reduced the overall signal from the monitor chambers to the dose control system such that the system could terminate the beam without input from external monitoring circuits. Calibration of the control system resulted in 12 MU per second, constituting roughly 180 Gy at the mylar window. Preliminary tests indicate a linear MU to dose relationship at FLASH dose rates, but we encountered challenges in both dose resolution and repeatability of beam termination.
CONCLUSIONS: The addition of attenuation in the control system path from the monitor chambers is fundamentally identical to current HDRE system design and was achieved without significant modification of the accelerator. Preliminary results indicate that current-generation monitor chambers could potentially govern FLASH radiotherapy, but overall beam and monitor chamber stability issues may necessitate machine modifications to achieve desired dosimetric accuracy.
Snyder M, Vadas J, Musselwhite J, Halford R, Wilson G, Stevens C, Yan D. Technical Note: FLASH radiotherapy monitor chamber signal conditioning. Med Phys. 2021 Feb;48(2):791-795. doi: 10.1002/mp.14650. Epub 2020 Dec 23. PMID: 33296516.