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Phys Med Biol. 2011 Apr 21;56(8):2585-99. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/56/8/016. Epub 2011 Mar 28.

Dosimetric characterization of an image-guided stereotactic small animal irradiator.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA.


Small animal irradiation provides an important tool used by preclinical studies to assess and optimize new treatment strategies such as stereotactic ablative radiotherapy. Characterization of radiation beams that are clinically and geometrically scaled for the small animal model is uniquely challenging for orthovoltage energies and minute field sizes. The irradiator employs a commercial x-ray device (XRAD 320, Precision x-ray, Inc.) with a custom collimation system to produce 1-10 mm diameter beams and a 50 mm reference beam. Absolute calibrations were performed using the AAPM TG-61 methodology. Beam's half-value layer (HVL) and timer error were measured with an ionization chamber. Percent depth dose (PDD), output factors (OFs) and off-axis ratios were measured using radiochromic film, a diode and a pinpoint ionization chamber at 19.76 and 24.76 cm source-to-surface distance (SSD). PDD measurements were also compared with Monte Carlo (MC) simulations. In-air and in-water absolute calibrations for the reference 50 mm diameter collimator at 19.76 cm SSD were measured as 20.96 and 20.79 Gy min(-1), respectively, agreeing within 0.8%. The HVL at 250 kVp and 15 mAs was measured to be 0.45 mm Cu. The reference field PDD MC simulation results agree with measured data within 3.5%. PDD data demonstrate typical increased penetration with increasing field size and SSD. For collimators larger than 5 mm in diameter, OFs measured using film, an ion chamber and a diode were within 3% agreement.

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