SMI Seminar on fundamental interactions and symmetries

Imaging with ion beams at MedAustron

by Dr. Albert Hirtl (ATI & MedAustron)

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 from to (Europe/Vienna)
at SMI - Boltzmanngasse 3, 1090 Wien ( 3-2-08 - Seminarraum )

by Dr. Albert Hirtl
Atominstitut der TU Wien & MedAustron


Ion beam therapy with its advantageous property to selectively irradiate tumours, while sparing healthy tissue, has become an increasingly used method for cancer treatment in many facilities around the globe. For accurate dose delivery, the computer-assisted treatment planning process is an essential part requiring appropriate imaging of the tumour region and the surrounding structures.

The current standard in radiation therapy is the use of computer tomography (CT) images with photons by means of Hounsfield units (HUs). In conventional radiation therapy with photons, the acquired HUs have to be translated into electron density. In ion beam therapy, however, the determined HUs have to be translated into stopping power values of protons and heavier ions. This procedure entails range uncertainties of several millimetres, resulting in unwanted dose deposition outside of the tumour region.

Imaging with protons can overcome these uncertainties and it is based on the determination of the particle's entry and exit points of an object and its residual energy. From these data, and using an estimate of the most likely proton path in the object, the required stopping power for the treatment planning can be obtained.

At MedAustron, patient treatment using protons started by end of 2016. Up to now, protons in the clinical range from 62.4 MeV to 252.7 MeV are available for research purposes in a dedicated non-clinical irradiation room. In the beginning of 2019, it is planned to increase the energy range for protons up to 800 MeV for non-clinical research, making MedAustron an outstanding facility to study proton-based imaging also beyond clinical energies. Additionally, carbon-ion beams up to 400 MeV/nucleon will become available and their potential for ion beam imaging will be investigated as well.

The aim of this talk is to report on ongoing preparation work for establishing tomography with ion beams at MedAustron. Additionally, an overview of the infrastructure available for non-clinical research at MedAustron will be given.