The neutron dose equivalent evaluation and shielding at the maze entrance of a Varian Clinac 23EX treatment room

Xudong Wang, Carlos Esquivel, Elena Nes, Chengyu Shi, Nikos Papanikolaou, Michael Charlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the neutron and photon dose equivalent rate (Hn,D and HG) at the outer maze entrance and the adjacent treatment console area after the installation of a Varian Clinac 23EX accelerator with a higher beam energy than its predecessor. The evaluation was based on measurements and comparison with several empirical calculations. The effectiveness of borated polyethylene (BPE) boards, as a maze wall lining material, on neutron dose and photon dose reduction is also reported. Methods: A single energy Varian 6 MV photon linear accelerator (linac) was replaced with a Varian Clinac 23EX accelerator capable of producing 18 MV photons in a vault originally designed for the former accelerator. In order to evaluate and redesign the shielding of the vault, the neutron dose equivalent Hn,D was measured using an Andersson-Braun neutron Rem meter and the photon dose equivalent HG was measured using a Geiger Müller and an ion chamber γ -ray survey meter at the outer maze entrance. The measurement data were compared to semiempirical calculations such as the Kersey method, the modified Kersey method, and a newly proposed method by Falcão et al. Additional measurements were taken after BPE boards were installed on the maze walls as a neutron absorption lining material. Results: With the gantry head tilted close to the inner maze entrance and with the jaws closed, both neutron dose equivalent and photon dose equivalent reached their maximum. Compared to the measurement results, the Kersey method overestimates the neutron dose equivalent Hn,D by about two to four times (calculation/measurement ratio≈2.4-3.8). Falcão's method largely overestimates the Hn,D (calculation/measurement ratio≈3.9-5.5). The modified Kersey method has a calculation to measurement ratio about 0.6-0.9. The photon dose equivalent calculation including McGinley's capture gamma dose equivalent equation estimates about 77%-98% of the measurement. After applying BPE boards as a lining material on the inner corner of the maze wall, the Hn,D and the HG at maze entrance were decreased by 41% and 59%, respectively. Conclusions: This work indicates that the Kersey method overestimates the neutron dose equivalent Hn,D for a Varian Clinac 23EX accelerator. The Falcão method overestimates the Hn,D partially due to the discrepancy in the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) conversion factors caused by the uncertainties of the estimated average neutron energy. The modified Kersey method gives the closest estimation of a Varian Clinac 23EX accelerator operated at 18 MV photon mode in a maze with a similar design as in the authors' study. However, it should be used with caution because of its tendency to underestimate the Hn,D. A borated polyethylene lining can provide a cost effective method to reduce neutron and photon dose equivalent at the maze door for an existing linac vault, following the installation of a higher energy linac.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1141-1149
Number of pages9
JournalMedical physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • medical accelerator maze
  • photoneutrons
  • semiempirical calculations
  • shielding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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