The dosimetric enhancement of GRID profiles using an external collimator in pencil beam scanning proton therapy

Blake R. Smith, Nicholas P. Nelson, Theodore J. Geoghegan, Kaustubh A. Patwardhan, Patrick M. Hill, Jen Yu, Alonso N. Gutiérrez, Bryan G. Allen, Daniel E. Hyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The radiobiological benefits afforded by spatially fractionated (GRID) radiation therapy pairs well with the dosimetric advantages of proton therapy. Inspired by the emergence of energy-layer specific collimators in pencil beam scanning (PBS), this work investigates how the spot spacing and collimation can be optimized to maximize the therapeutic gains of a GRID treatment while demonstrating the integration of a dynamic collimation system (DCS) within a commercial beamline to deliver GRID treatments and experimentally benchmark Monte Carlo calculation methods. Methods: GRID profiles were experimentally benchmarked using a clinical DCS prototype that was mounted to the nozzle of the IBA-dedicated nozzle system. Integral depth dose (IDD) curves and lateral profiles were measured for uncollimated and GRID-collimated beamlets. A library of collimated GRID dose distributions were simulated by placing beamlets within a specified uniform grid and weighting the beamlets to achieve a volume-averaged tumor cell survival equivalent to an open field delivery. The healthy tissue sparing afforded by the GRID distribution was then estimated across a range of spot spacings and collimation widths, which were later optimized based on the radiosensitivity of the tumor cell line and the nominal spot size of the PBS system. This was accomplished by using validated models of the IBA universal and dedicated nozzles. Results: Excellent agreement was observed between the measured and simulated profiles. The IDDs matched above 98.7% when analyzed using a 1%/1-mm gamma criterion with some minor deviation observed near the Bragg peak for higher beamlet energies. Lateral profile distributions predicted using Monte Carlo methods agreed well with the measured profiles; a gamma passing rate of 95% or higher was observed for all in-depth profiles examined using a 3%/2-mm criteria. Additional collimation was shown to improve PBS GRID treatments by sharpening the lateral penumbra of the beamlets but creates a trade-off between enhancing the valley-to-peak ratio of the GRID delivery and the dose-volume effect. The optimal collimation width and spot spacing changed as a function of the tumor cell radiosensitivity, dose, and spot size. In general, a spot spacing below 2.0 cm with a collimation less than 1.0 cm provided a superior dose distribution among the specific cases studied. Conclusions: The ability to customize a GRID dose distribution using different collimation sizes and spot spacings is a useful advantage, especially to maximize the overall therapeutic benefit. In this regard, the capabilities of the DCS, and perhaps alternative dynamic collimators, can be used to enhance GRID treatments. Physical dose models calculated using Monte Carlo methods were experimentally benchmarked in water and were found to accurately predict the respective dose distributions of uncollimated and DCS-collimated GRID profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2684-2698
Number of pages15
JournalMedical physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • GRID
  • dynamic collimation system
  • pencil beam scanning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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