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2016 3rd Middle East Conference on Biomedical Engineering (MECBME)

Characteristics of the Therapy Spectrum Beams used in the

Secondary Standard Dosimetry Laboratory at the Lebanese Atomic
Energy Commission.

N. Melhem 1, H. El Balaa2, 3, G. Younes1 and Z. Al Kattar4

1 Beirut Arab University, Faculty of Sciences, Debbieh, Lebanon

2National council for scientific research, Lebanese atomic energy commission, Airport Road Beirut, Lebanon
3 Lebanese University, Faculty of Sciences
4 Lebanese University, Faculty of Public Health, Rafic Hariri Campus, Hadath-Beirut

Abstract— The SSDL (Secondary Standard Dosimetry certificates with all the necessary information, including the
Laboratory) at the LAEC (Lebanese Atomic Energy estimated uncertainties according to the ISO 4037 and CCRI
Commission) has different calibration methods for standards.
various types of dosimeters used in industrial, military The document that holds the ISO-4037 standards (divided
and medical fields. The calibration is performed using into 4 parts) [1-5] is the reference document for the
different beams of X- rays (low and medium energy) and calibrations with γ-rays and X-Rays. These standards cover
Gamma radiation delivered by a Cesium 137 source. The almost all aspects of calibrations with photons. The ISO
SSDL laboratory in charge of calibration services uses (29661:2012) characterizes terms and principal ideas for the
different protocols for the determination of high and low calibration of dosimeters and equipment used for the
air kerma rate and for narrow and wide series. In order radiation assurance dosimetry of external radiation -
to perform this calibration, it is very important to specifically, for beta, neutron and photon radiation.
identify all the beam characteristics for the different Suggestions are made for the position of the reference point
types of sources and qualities of radiation. and the phantom to be utilized for personal dosimeters [6].
The following work describes the methods used for the Only few works have been published concerning the
determination of different beam characteristics and establishment of reference radiations at calibrations
calibration coefficients with their uncertainties in order laboratories .Two qualities of beams are used for calibration
to enhance the radiation protection of workers and in the SSDL at LAEC: N series: Narrow spectrum series used
patient applications in the fields of medical diagnosis and for Radiation protection and T series: Medium energy kilo
industrial X-Ray. All the characteristics of the X-Ray voltage X-ray given by CCRI (Consultative Committee for
beams are determined for the therapy spectrum series Standards of Ionizing Radiations) used for Therapy
where the inherent filtration, the current intensity, the Radiation[7].
high voltage and the total uncertainty are the specific These qualities can be installed in the SSDL according to
characteristics of these X-Ray beams. An X-Ray software Herrati & all, B. Behnke & all [8-10] that described the
is developed in order to visualize the reference values detailed methods to determine the characteristics of these
according to the characteristics of each beam. beams. In addition to these methods of installation, the
authors of this work investigated the relation between the
I. INTRODUCTION beam intensity and the air kerma rate, as well as the relation
between the kVp and the air kerma rate of the T series having
The Secondary Standard Dosimetry Laboratory (SSDL) is a voltage going from 10 kVp to 200 kVp at different
often a part of an international network of dosimetry distances to establish the reference values and uncertainties
laboratories established by the International Atomic used for calibration in the SSDL.
Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health
Organization (WHO). The SSDLs are designated by II. MATERIALS AND METHODS
national laboratories (such as Primary Standard
Dosimetry Laboratories, PSDLs) to provide national and A. X- ray beam irradiator
international radiation dosimetry traceability for users in The X-ray beam irradiator used in the SSDL is MODEL X80-
different countries in order to perform calibrations of 225 kV calibrator presented by HOPEWELL DESIGNS,
radiation measurement equipment and to issue calibration INC. It is a complete system for irradiating personnel badges
and radiation detection instruments with X-Ray radiation.
The major X-Ray sub systems are composed of six elements:

978-1-5090-2555-8/16/$31.00 ©2016 IEEE

2016 3rd Middle East Conference on Biomedical Engineering (MECBME)

the dosimetry grade X-Ray system, the shielded enclosure, pressures exerted by the atmosphere without implosion. The
the beam shutter, the collimator, the system control panel and excessive inherent filtration reduces the X-Ray output as well
status indicators, the added filltration for the T series and all as the radiographic contrast on equipment of a given rating.
signal cables. The HVLs may be achieved using different For the X ray tube in the SSDL the method consists of
combinations of Cu or aluminum filters. calculating the first HVL of the beam at 60 kVp (kilo voltage
peak) without additional filtration using aluminum filters and
B. Ionization chamber converting the HVL to inherent filtration using the ISO 4037
The spherical ionizing chamber TW32002 (LS01) SN. standards[1].In normal practice, it is acceptable to tolerate
259 is designed by PTW to measure the ionizing radiation in inherent filtration equivalent to 3 mm of beryllium.
radiation protection. Superior features make the chamber
suitable for calibration purposes. It fulfills the requirements E. Current intensity
of excellent reproducibility and long-term stability of the The dependence of the Ka in function of the electrical
sensitive volume. The ionization chamber should be centered current I (mA) of the generator is measured using the 1 L
and aligned with the beam axis. The beam axis is indicated by spherical ionization chamber that is placed in the beam
a system of lasers that indicate the horizontal and vertical center at 100 cm distance from the X-Ray tube. The
plane of the beam. procedure consists of changing the intensity to 15 mA and
C. Air kerma measurements. measuring the number of counts for each value, then
converting this number to air kerma rate. For each quality,
The dosimetric references of continuous beams of X-Ray the same procedure allows the determination of the air kerma
photons are expressed in terms of kerma (Kinetic Energy rate according to the current intensity.
Released per unit mass) in air. The measurement technique is The dependence is fitted for the Ka rate and the detailed
based on the ISE (ion selective electrode) method. measurements, and results will be added in the X- ray
The Air Kerma, Ka, is the amount of energy transferred, software.
dEtr in (air) per unit mass F. Half value layer
K a =G KTP.NK (1) The half value layer is the thickness of the specified
Where G is the electrometer reading in (nC), KTP is a material, which attenuates the beam of radiation to an extent
correction factor applied for temperature and pressure, such that the air kerma rate is reduced to half of its original value.
as measurements with a vented ionization chamber and air This entity is determined by measuring the kerma rate after
attenuation at low X-ray energies. attenuation of the copper filters. The thickness of the filters is
used to determine the HVL according to the method given by
NK is the calibration coefficient in term of μGy/nC the ISO 4037.
The ambient conditions during the measurements should
be within the following limits [6] .
- Temperature: 18 - 22°C
- Relative humidity: 55 - 75%
- Atmospheric pressure: 86 - 106 kPa
- Ambient gamma radiation: air kerma rate less than 0.25
The temperature and humidity inside the local are
adjusted by the heating system installed in the basement of
the building.
D. Inherent filtration Fig 1: Set-up to calculate the half value layers of the T
series beams [8].
The quality of beams depends on the total filtration used
during irradiation; the total filtration is the combination of the The HVL is measured by adding aluminum or copper
inherent filtration and the added filtration. The inherent filters in the beam. About 2 mm thickness of copper filters is
filtration is specific for an X- Ray tube, it can’t be changed , used around the 1st HVL and 2nd HVL value for each beam
it is the reduction of radiation energy due to absorption by the quality. Using three successive points, a linear alignment
material necessary to provide the vacuum, the electrical allows the calculation of the 1st HVL and 2nd HVL value
insulation, and mechanical rigidity of the X-Ray tube. In the from the slope of the alignment.
center-grounded X-Ray equipment, it is necessary to provide
gas and solid insulation for electrical isolation of the X-Ray The relative uncertainty about the HVL value is
tube. approximately less than 2 % for k = 1.

In the construction of the X-Ray tube MODEL X80-225 The uncertainty about the calibration factor of the
kV, the port is reduced in thickness to provide less inherent ionization chamber is defined in the calibration certificate by
filtration. It is made of beryllium which is a light metal of low a primary laboratory (PTB, Germany 2013) and it is equal to
atomic number and low X-Ray absorption to withstand the 0.2% for the T series, and the uncertainty of the electrometer
is 0.1%.
2016 3rd Middle East Conference on Biomedical Engineering (MECBME)

For calibrations, at least four measurements should be B. Inherent filtration

selected. The repeatability of measurements would be
introduced in the total uncertainty as well as the corrective The inherent filtration was measured using the LS01
pressure and temperature. The pressure is measured with a ionization chamber placed at 1 m from the tube center, fully
relative uncertainty of 5 mbar and the temperature 1.5 Celsius in the beam. Aluminum filters with different thicknesses were
degrees, with a relative uncertainty of 0.2%. The maximal added in the beam in order to calculate the HVL without
uncertainty of the distance was already determined to be 5 additional filtration at 60 kV; the inherent filtration was
mm. measured at an intensity of 4 mA.
The plots for the relative response as function of Al filtration
G. X-Ray dosimetry software
is shown in Figure 2.
All the reference values of the different qualities of beams
determined by the authors of this work are introduced in
software relating the air kerma to the current intensity, the 60 kV
high voltage and the distance between the X- Ray tube and 1.2

Relative Response (R/R0)

the ionization chamber. The software was created using
visual studio 2015 in order to collect the data and make the 1

complicated calculations. 0.8

In addition, the total uncertainty is given by this software 0.6

for each quality of beam in order to facilitate the calibration
A. Air kerma measurements 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7

In order to determine the reference values of the air kerma Attenuator Thickness (mm Al)
rate and the personal dose equivalent at different distances,
the methods of measurement that should be used are Fig. 2: Graph relating the reandings and the filter thickness in
previously described in section II.C. order to calculate the HVL.
Table 1 shows the references values at a distance of 1 m Based on the ISO 4037, the inherent filtration was calculated
from the tube at an intensity of 10 mA for 30 s of the T series using an extrapolation with second order polynomial to plot
beam qualities. the inherent filtration according to the first HVL in mm of
TABLE 1 aluminum. The first HVL is 0.178 (mm Al) and the inherent
filtration is 0.18 (mm Al) according to [1].
C. Current intensity
Standard X-ray tube Added K air
radiation voltage (KV) Filtration (Gy/h) The dependence of the Ka on the electric current I (mA) of
Al Cu the generator was measured with the LS01 ionization
chamber placed in the beam center at 65 cm distance. It is
T1 100 3.6 also assumed that the beam is sufficiently homogeneous over
2.606 the sensitive part of the ionization chamber. The dependence
T2 135 1 0.23 was fitted with a second order polynomial.The air kerma rate
according to the current for the T series intensity is presented
T3 180 1 0.52
3.69 in Fig 3.
T8 25 0.38
T9 30 0.2 T series
T10 50 4
0.463 10
T 11 50 1.1 1.944 8
K air (Gy/h)

6 T1
The air kerma rates are different due to the high voltage 4 T8
and the total filtration of each beam. Moreover, the table 2 T9
shows that the maximal air kerma rate is 3.639 Gy/h for T3 0 T10
beam, this value is due to the characteristic X-Rays of the 0 5 10 15 20 T11
tungsten target for energy of 59 keV [4]. For the T10, the
Intensity (mA)
total filtration is made by a 4 mm of Al filter. As a result, the
dose rate decreases to 0.463 Gy/h.
Fig.3: The current dependence of Ka measured at 65 cm
distance for the T series
2016 3rd Middle East Conference on Biomedical Engineering (MECBME)

The second order polynomial gave a better fit for the TABLE 2
D. Half value layer
The half value layers are determined for all the beam Uncertainty Unit Uncertainty Distribution Type
qualities of the T series, going from 10 kV to 200kV, using source
the method described above, the results are given in Table 3
Reference nC/min 1.6% normal A
with deviation from the standards. These readings are measurement
converted to ln (R) in order to obtain the relation between the
readings and the attenuator thikness. Repeatability 0.50% normal A

Calibration µGy/nC 0.2 normal B

T3 Pressure mbar 5 rectangular B
y = -0.629x + 7.062 Temperature °C 1.5 rectangular B
ln (Readings)

Positioning cm 0.5 rectangular B
6.5 Time S 2 rectangular B
6.1 Reference Ka µGy/s 2.1%
5.9 rate
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4

Attenuator thickness mm Cu
E. X-Ray software

Fig 4: Relation between ln (readings) and the attenuator All the characteristics needed to approve the validity of the T
thickness quality of beams used in the SSDL were compared to the
corresponding standards. Special software is designed to
. organize the results obtained in order to facilitate the
= (2)
. irradiations and calibration in the SSDL. The described X-
The HVL of all the beams are determined by this method Ray software is used to collect all the reference values of the
of calculation and are given in Table 2. T series relating the dose rate to the intensity, the distance,
the pressure, the temperature and the beam quality. From
The ISO-4037 recommends 5% agreement between the
these relations the dose rate can be calculated by selecting
measured and standard HVLs. Table 2 shows that all the
each input value.
beams didn’t exceed the 5% comparing to the CCRI
standards and the references [9-11]; for T3 the uncertainty is
4.7 % within the permissible tolerance limits of ± 5 % for the The software is used as a standard reference to compare
first HVL. any result measured during the calibration and provides
for each dose rate the total uncertainty calculated in this
The uncertainty should be given for each calibration and work as well as the HVL calculated and presented in table 3.
irradiation of samples in the SSDL, so it is significant to take
into consideration the total uncertainty of measurement in the In the input table the ambient conditions, the distance, the
laboratory; Table 3 presents the uncertainty of the reference current and the irradiation time are selected. The software
values.The calibration values mentioned above, as well as the uses the data relating these inputs, makes interpolations from
uncertainties, are introduced into the X-Ray software. This
the current and distance curves determined above and gives
developed software permits the calculation and determination
of the reference values at all distances and conditions as well in the results table the dose rate, the dose integrated and the
as the total uncertainty according to: uncertainties according to the data selected in the input table.
The dose rate can be converted to the personal dose or
equivalent dose by selecting the correspondent entity, the
• Time measurement software uses the conversion coefficients from ISO [1] and
their uncertainties for each beam quality.
• Interpolation
• Conversion factors
• Half-life
• Distance
• Background radiation
2016 3rd Middle East Conference on Biomedical Engineering (MECBME)



Standard X-ray tube HVL HVL Measured HVL Measured HVL Deviation from
radiation voltage (mm Al) (mm Cu) (mm Al) (mm Cu) CCRI
quality (KV)
T1 100 4.03 4.01 -1.3%
T2 135 0.52 0.513
T3 180 1.0 1.05
T8 25 0.23 0.24 4.1%
T9 30 0.16 0.165
T10 50 2.37 2.39
T 11 50 1.00 1.05

In the results table, the beam diameter is calculated according For example if a dose rate is needed to obtain 1 mGy: the
to the distance selected; the software calculated the beam “Air kerma” beam quality, the temperature and the pressure
diameter using trigonometric relations and also gives the should be selected then the distance and the current can be
wheel position and the maximum current for each selected adjusted by varying the correspondent bottom on the main
quality. menu to have a resulting dose rate of 1 mGy in the results
The most important function is to use this software to irradiate
samples in the SSDL; the beam quality and the ambient Figure 5 shows all the characteristics of the T3 beam quality
conditions can be selected as well as the distance and the and the dose integrated during 2 minutes of irradiation in
exposure time can be adjusted to obtain the expected dose. addition to the beam diameter, maximum current and wheel
position for T3.

Fig 5: X-Ray dosimetry software design developed in this work.

2016 3rd Middle East Conference on Biomedical Engineering (MECBME)

The detailed method for the determination of the REFERENCES

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