Characterization of dose impact on IMRT and VMAT from couch attenuation for two Varian couches

Heng Li, Andrew K. Lee, Jennifer L. Johnson, Ronald X. Zhu, Rajat J. Kudchadker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT), the use of posterior oblique beams has become common. Beam attenuation by the treatment couch is not negligible when the couch is in the beam portal. In this study, we established the relationship of relative dose vs. beam angle for two Varian 21EX linacs, one equipped with the Exact couch (standard couch) with sliding side support rails, and the other equipped with the Exact image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) carbon fiber couch. Measurements were performed using an ion chamber placed at the center of an acrylic cylindrical phantom positioned at the linac isocenter for 6 MV and 18 MV photon beams. Measurements were performed at three different field sizes (3 × 3, 5 × 5, and 10 × 10 cm2), and were repeated with the phantom positioned at different longitudinal locations on the couches. To evaluate beam attenuation by the standard couch in a clinical setting, two test IMRT plans and two test VMAT plans on the standard couch were delivered. The plans were generated with the sliding rails at the "in" position and delivered with the rails at both "in" and "out" positions. The dose difference to the ion chamber was determined. For oblique fields with 6 MV photons, the standard couch attenuated the radiation beam by up to 26.8%, while the carbon fiber IGRT couch attenuated the beam by up to 4.1%. In the clinical evaluation, the highest dose difference between rails set at the "in" and "out" positions was 2.6% in the IMRT case and 2.1% in the VMAT case. The magnitude of potential dose difference has been quantified and could be used for a quick estimation of dose difference due to couch attenuation in IMRT and VMAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Couch attenuation
  • Dosimetric impact
  • MV photon radiotherapy
  • QA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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