Experimental validation of Monte Carlo dosimetry for therapeutic beta emitters with radiochromic film in a 3D-printed phantom

Benjamin Van, Yuni K. Dewaraja, Jeremy T. Niedbala, Gerrid Rosebush, Matthew Kazmierski, David Hubers, Justin K. Mikell, Scott J. Wilderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Validation of dosimetry software, such as Monte Carlo (MC) radiation transport codes used for patient-specific absorbed dose estimation, is critical prior to their use in clinical decision making. However, direct experimental validation in the clinic is generally not performed for low/medium-energy beta emitters used in radiopharmaceutical therapy (RPT) due to the challenges of measuring energy deposited by short-range particles. Our objective was to design a practical phantom geometry for radiochromic film (RF)-based absorbed dose measurements of beta-emitting radionuclides and perform experiments to directly validate our in-house developed Dose Planning Method (DPM) MC code dedicated to internal dosimetry. Methods: The experimental setup was designed for measuring absorbed dose from beta emitters that have a range sufficiently penetrating to ∼200 μm in water as well as to capture any photon contributions to absorbed dose. Assayed 177Lu and 90Y liquid sources, 13–450 MBq estimated to deliver 0.5–10 Gy to the sensitive layer of the RF, were injected into the cavity of two 3D-printed half-cylinders that had been sealed with 12.7 μm or 25.4 μm thick Kapton Tape. A 3.8 × 6 cm strip of GafChromic EBT3 RF was sandwiched between the two taped half-cylinders. After 2–48 h exposures, films were retrieved and wipe tested for contamination. Absorbed dose to the RF was measured using a commercial triple-channel dosimetry optimization method and a calibration generated via 6 MV photon beam. Profiles were analyzed across the central 1 cm2 area of the RF for validation. Eleven experiments were completed with 177Lu and nine with 90Y both in saline and a bone equivalent solution. Depth dose curves were generated for 177Lu and 90Y stacking multiple RF strips between a single filled half-cylinder and an acrylic backing. All experiments were modeled in DPM to generate voxelized MC absorbed dose estimates. We extended our study to benchmark general purpose MC codes MCNP6 and EGSnrc against the experimental results as well. Results: A total of 20 experiments showed that both the 3D-printed phantoms and the final absorbed dose values were reproducible. The agreement between the absorbed dose estimates from the RF measurements and DPM was on average −4.0% (range −10.9% to 3.2%) for all single film 177Lu experiments and was on average −1.0% (range −2.7% to 0.7%) for all single film 90Y experiments. Absorbed depth dose estimates by DPM agreed with RF on average 1.2% (range −8.0% to 15.2%) across all depths for 177Lu and on average 4.0% (range −5.0% to 9.3%) across all depths for 90Y. DPM absorbed dose estimates agreed with estimates from EGSnrc and MCNP across the board, within 4.7% and within 3.4% for 177Lu and 90Y respectively, for all geometries and across all depths. MC showed that absorbed dose to RF from betas was greater than 92% of the total (betas + other radiations) for 177Lu, indicating measurement of dominant beta contribution with our design. Conclusions: The reproducible results with a RF insert in a simple phantom designed for liquid sources demonstrate that this is a reliable setup for experimentally validating dosimetry algorithms used in therapies with beta-emitting unsealed sources. Absorbed doses estimated with the DPM MC code showed close agreement with RF measurement and with results from two general purpose MC codes, thereby validating the use of this algorithms for clinical RPT dosimetry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-556
Number of pages17
JournalMedical physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • dosimetry
  • monte carlo
  • radiopharmaceutical therapy


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