Dosimetric impact of range uncertainty in passive scattering proton therapy

Ruirui Liu, Baozhou Sun, Tiezhi Zhang, Jeffery F. Williamson, Joseph A. O’Sullivan, Tianyu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The objective of this study was to investigate the dosimetric impact of range uncertainty in a large cohort of patients receiving passive scatter proton therapy. Methods: A cohort of 120 patients were reviewed in this study retrospectively, of which 61 were brain, 39 lung, and 20 prostate patients. Range uncertainties of ±3.5% (overshooting and undershooting by 3.5%, respectively) were added and recalculated on the original plans, which had been planned according to our clinical planning protocol while keeping beamlines, apertures, compensators, and dose grids intact. Changes in the coverage on CTV and DVH for critical organs were compared and analyzed. Correlation between dose change and minimal distance between CTV and critical organs were also investigated. Results: Although CTV coverages and maximum dose to critical organs were largely maintained for most brain patients, large variations over 5% were still observed sporadically. Critical organs, such as brainstem and chiasm, could still be affected by range uncertainty at 4 cm away from CTV. Coverage and OARs in lung and prostate patients were less likely to be affected by range uncertainty with very few exceptions. Conclusion: The margin recipe in modern TPS leads to clinically acceptable OAR doses in the presence of range uncertainties. However, range uncertainties still pose a noticeable challenge for small but critical serial organs near tumors, and occasionally for large parallel organs that are located distal to incident proton beams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-14
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • dose calculation
  • passive scatter proton therapy
  • proton range uncertainty
  • retrospective study


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