Angular measurement of the cobalt-60 emitted radiation spectrum from a radiosurgery irradiator

R. E. Drzymala, J. W. Sohn, C. Guo, L. G. Sobotka, J. A. Purdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The photon energy spectrum emanating from a Leksell Gamma Knife, Model 23004B, was measured between 0.250 and 3.5 MeV with the sources exposed. Measurements were made using a 2×2 inch NaI detector enclosed in a lead-shielded apparatus having a 1/4 inch diameter measurement aperture, which reduced the amount of radiation received by the crystal. All measurements were made one meter above the floor within a quadrant toward one side of the Gamma Knife couch. The measured spectra displayed the expected 60Co doublet of photon peaks at energies of 1.17 and 1.33 MeV. These peaks appeared in spectra beginning at ∼50 degrees, as one proceeds from a point directly lateral to the source enclosure (0 degrees) toward the foot of the couch (90 degrees). The average photon energy of the spectrum shifts to lower values as the doublet decreases in magnitude with increasing angle until almost vanishing at an angle equal to 90 degrees. Inserting a 16 cm diameter plastic sphere phantom, provided with the Gamma Knife, into the radiation beams increases the low energy photon emissions appearing in the spectrum, especially for measurements at the foot of the couch. Implications for the design of shielding a treatment room containing the Gamma Knife, Model B, and estimation of the radiation exposure to personnel during an emergency procedure in the treatment room with the sources exposed are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-628
Number of pages9
JournalMedical physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Gamma knife
  • Radiation protection
  • Radiosurgery


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