Evaluation of a deterministic grid-based Boltzmann solver (GBBS) for voxel-level absorbed dose calculations in nuclear medicine

Justin Mikell, S. Cheenu Kappadath, Todd Wareing, William D. Erwin, Uwe Titt, Firas Mourtada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


To evaluate the 3D Grid-based Boltzmann Solver (GBBS) code ATTILA ® for coupled electron and photon transport in the nuclear medicine energy regime for electron (beta, Auger and internal conversion electrons) and photon (gamma, x-ray) sources. Codes rewritten based on ATTILA are used clinically for both high-energy photon teletherapy and 192Ir sealed source brachytherapy; little information exists for using the GBBS to calculate voxel-level absorbed doses in nuclear medicine. We compared DOSXYZnrc Monte Carlo (MC) with published voxel-S-values to establish MC as truth. GBBS was investigated for mono-energetic 1.0, 0.1, and 0.01 MeV electron and photon sources as well as 131I and 90Y radionuclides. We investigated convergence of GBBS by analyzing different meshes (), energy group structures () for each radionuclide component, angular quadrature orders (, and scattering order expansions (-); higher indices imply finer discretization. We compared GBBS to MC in (1) voxel-S-value geometry for soft tissue, lung, and bone, and (2) a source at the interface between combinations of lung, soft tissue, and bone. Excluding Auger and conversion electrons, MC agreed within ≈5% of published source voxel absorbed doses. For the finest discretization, most GBBS absorbed doses in the source voxel changed by less than 1% compared to the next finest discretization along each phase space variable indicating sufficient convergence. For the finest discretization, agreement with MC in the source voxel ranged from -3% to -20% with larger differences at lower energies (-3% for 1 MeV electron in lung to -20% for 0.01 MeV photon in bone); similar agreement was found for the interface geometries. Differences between GBBS and MC in the source voxel for 90Y and 131I were -6%. The GBBS ATTILA was benchmarked against MC in the nuclear medicine regime. GBBS can be a viable alternative to MC for voxel-level absorbed doses in nuclear medicine. However, reconciliation of the differences between GBBS and MC at lower energies requires further investigation of energy deposition cross-sections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4564-4582
Number of pages19
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - May 25 2016


  • GBBS
  • Monte Carlo
  • Radionuclide dosimetry
  • voxel dosimetry


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