Clinical implementation of AAPM Task Group 32 recommendations on brachytherapy source strength specification

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Historically the strength of sealed brachytherapy sources has been described by many physical quantities, including true activity, apparent activity, and equivalent mass of radium. Recently, the AAPM Task Group 32 recommended that these quantities be replaced by a single quantity, air-kerma strength, with units of μ Gy m2h “1. A set of equations has been developed for unambiguously converting source strength estimates and renormalizing published dose-rate tables, which assume traditional quantities and units, into forms consistent with air-kerma strength. For commonly used brachytherapy sources, multiplicative conversion factors for each source-strength formalism and set of units are given. To convert equivalent mass of radium to air-kerma strength requires a single multiplicative factor, 7.23 μGy m2 h -1/mgRaEq, applicable to all sources. Based upon a review of vendor source specification practices, the factors for converting source strength of 198Au, l03Pd, and,25I seeds from apparent mCi to air-kerma strength are 2.06, 1.29, and 1.27 μGy m2h -1/mCi(apparent), respectively. These factors are independent of source geometry but depend on the nominal exposure rate constant value selected by the vendor. Conversion factors applicable to mass of radium or true activity depend upon both source geometry and radionuclide identity. Because many of these conversion factors depend upon vendor choices of physical constants and exposure rate constants, readers are cautioned to carefully review vendor source strength specification practices before adopting these values clinically. Finally, the relationships between the various source strength quantities and absorbed dose rate in the medium surrounding the source are elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-448
Number of pages10
JournalMedical physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1991


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