Feasibility of proton FLASH irradiation using a synchrocyclotron for preclinical studies

Arash Darafsheh, Yao Hao, Townsend Zwart, Miles Wagner, Daniel Catanzano, Jeffrey F. Williamson, Nels Knutson, Baozhou Sun, Sasa Mutic, Tianyu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Purpose: It has been recently shown that radiotherapy at ultrahigh dose rates ('40 Gy/s, FLASH) has a potential advantage in sparing healthy organs compared to that at conventional dose rates. The purpose of this work is to show the feasibility of proton FLASH irradiation using a gantry-mounted synchrocyclotron as a first step toward implementing an experimental setup for preclinical studies. Methods: A clinical Mevion HYPERSCAN® synchrocyclotron was modified to deliver ultrahigh dose rates. Pulse widths of protons with 230 MeV energy were manipulated from 1 to 20 μs to deliver in conventional and ultrahigh dose rate. A boron carbide absorber was placed in the beam for range modulation. A Faraday cup was used to determine the number of protons per pulse at various dose rates. Dose rate was determined by the dose measured with a plane-parallel ionization chamber with respect to the actual delivery time. The integral depth dose (IDD) was measured with a Bragg ionization chamber. Monte Carlo simulation was performed in TOPAS as the secondary check for the measurements. Results: Maximum protons charge per pulse, measured with the Faraday cup, was 54.6 pC at 20 μs pulse width. The measured IDD agreed well with the Monte Carlo simulation. The average dose rate measured using the ionization chamber showed 101 Gy/s at the entrance and 216 Gy/s at the Bragg peak with a full width at half maximum field size of 1.2 cm. Conclusions: It is feasible to deliver protons at 100 and 200 Gy/s average dose rate at the plateau and the Bragg peak, respectively, in a small ~1 cm2 field using a gantry-mounted synchrocyclotron.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4348-4355
Number of pages8
JournalMedical physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Monte Carlo
  • proton therapy
  • synchrocyclotron
  • ultrahigh dose rate


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