Purpose: There are three goals for this study: (a) to perform detailed megavoltage transmission measurements in order to identify the factors that affect the measurement accuracy, (b) to use the measured data as a benchmark for the EGSnrc system in order to identify the computational limiting factors, and (c) to provide data for others to benchmark Monte Carlo codes. Methods: Transmission measurements are performed at the National Research Council Canada on a research linac whose incident electron parameters are independently known. Automated transmission measurements are made on-axis, down to a transmission value of ∼1.7, for eight beams between 10 MV (the lowest stable MV beam on the linac) and 30 MV, using fully stopping Be, Al, and Pb bremsstrahlung targets and no fattening filters. To diversify energy differentiation, data are acquired for each beam using low-Z and high-Z attenuators (C and Pb) and Farmer chambers with low-Z and high-Z buildup caps. Experimental corrections are applied for beam drifts (2), polarity (2.5 typical maximum, 6 extreme), ion recombination (0.2), leakage (0.3), and room scatter (0.8)-the values in parentheses are the largest corrections applied. The experimental setup and the detectors are modeled using EGSnrc, with the newly added photonuclear attenuation included (up to a 5.6 effect). A detailed sensitivity analysis is carried out for the measured and calculated transmission data. Results: The developed experimental protocol allows for transmission measurements with 0.4 uncertainty on the smallest signals. Suggestions for accurate transmission measurements are provided. Measurements and EGSnrc calculations agree typically within 0.2 for the sensitivity of the transmission values to the detector details, to the bremsstrahlung target material, and to the incident electron energy. Direct comparison of the measured and calculated transmission data shows agreement better than 2 for C (3.4 for the 10 MV beam) and typically better than 1 for Pb. The differences can be explained by acceptable photon cross section changes of 0.4. Conclusions: Accurate transmission measurements require accounting for a number of influence quantities which, if ignored, can collectively introduce errors larger than 10. Accurate transmission calculations require the use of the most accurate data and physics options available in EGSnrc, particularly the more accurate bremsstrahlung angular sampling option and the newly added modeling of photonuclear attenuation. Comparison between measurements and calculations implies that EGSnrc is accurate within 0.2 for relative ion chamber response calculations. Photon cross section uncertainties are the ultimate limiting factor for the accuracy of the calculated transmission data (Monte Carlo or analytical).

Additional Metadata
Keywords EGSnrc benchmark, photon beams, photonuclear, transmission measurements
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1118/1.4745561
Journal Medical Physics
Ali, E.S.M., McEwen, M.R., & Rogers, D.W.O. (2012). Detailed high-accuracy megavoltage transmission measurements: A sensitive experimental benchmark of EGSnrc. Medical Physics, 39(10), 5990–6003. doi:10.1118/1.4745561