The effect of gantry angle on megavoltage photon beam attenuation by a carbon fiber couch insert.
The use of rigid carbon fiber couch inserts in radiotherapy treatment couches is a well-established method of reducing patient set-up errors associated with couch sag. Several published studies have described such inserts as radiotranslucent with negligible attenuation of the radiation field. Most of these studies were conducted with the radiation field normally incident on the couch and there appears to be no evidence in the literature of the effect of the gantry angle on the extent of beam attenuation by the carbon fiber insert alone during external beam radiotherapy. In this study we examined the magnitude of this effect over a range of posterior oblique gantry angles using a cylindrical solid water phantom containing an ionization chamber placed isocentrically. It was found that a 6 MV photon beam, field size 10 x 5 cm, was attenuated significantly as the gantry angle approached the plane of the couch, from 2% at normal incidence and reaching 9% attenuation at angle of incidence 70 degrees. This could have serious implications regarding dose to the treatment volume for treatments requiring posterior oblique angles of incidence with a possible correction factor necessary in monitor unit calculations.