Technical Notes| Volume 32, ISSUE 4, P612-617, April 2016

The influence of physical wedges on penumbra and in-field dose uniformity in ocular proton beams

Published:March 14, 2016DOI:


      • Monte Carlo simulations performed on wedged ocular proton fields.
      • Compared with radiochromic film measurements for a range of geometries.
      • Good agreement between simulation and experimental measurement observed.
      • Significant in-field scattering and penumbral broadening can occur.
      • Monte Carlo provides an accurate tool for determining the dose effects.


      A physical wedge may be partially introduced into a proton beam when treating ocular tumours in order to improve dose conformity to the distal border of the tumour and spare the optic nerve. Two unwanted effects of this are observed: a predictable broadening of the beam penumbra on the wedged side of the field and, less predictably, an increase in dose within the field along a relatively narrow volume beneath the edge (toe) of the wedge, as a result of small-angle proton scatter. Monte Carlo simulations using MCNPX and direct measurements with radiochromic (GAFCHROMIC® EBT2) film were performed to quantify these effects for aluminium wedges in a 60 MeV proton beam as a function of wedge angle and position of the wedge relative to the patient. For extreme wedge angles (60° in eye tissue) and large wedge-to-patient distances (70 mm in this context), the 90–10% beam penumbra increased from 1.9 mm to 9.1 mm. In-field dose increases from small-angle proton scatter were found to contribute up to 21% additional dose, persisting along almost the full depth of the spread-out-Bragg peak. Profile broadening and in-field dose enhancement are both minimised by placing the wedge as close as possible to the patient. Use of lower atomic number wedge materials such as PMMA reduce the magnitude of both effects as a result of a reduced mean scattering angle per unit energy loss; however, their larger physical size and greater variation in density are undesirable.


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