Article Abstract

Improving the precision and performance of proton pencil beam scanning

Authors: Sairos Safai, Christian Bula, David Meer, Eros Pedroni


In this report we present the technical features of Gantry 2, the new second generation scanning system of PSI. On the basis of the experience and success with the first prototype, Gantry 1, built in the 90s for introducing pencil beam scanning and IMPT into the field of proton therapy, we have recently implemented a new system capable of offering much faster repainted conformal scanning for being able to treat moving targets with scanning under image guidance, the next challenge in the field of proton therapy.

The new technical developments are conducted in parallel to the ongoing basic commissioning of Gantry 2, which should go into operation with usual discrete spot scanning for treating static targets in 2013.

The innovative layout of Gantry 2 and the integration in the treatment area of the basic equipment for image guidance are presented. Noteworthy are the sliding CT within reach of the patient table and the unique new Beam’s-Eye-View X-ray fluoroscopy system for taking images in the beam direction synchronized with the proton beam delivery.

The first preliminary results with the development of much faster scanning modes look very encouraging. We can change the beam energy with the beam line within 80 ms for typical 0.5 cm range steps. We can deliver whole fluence-shaped energy layers within a time of the order of 100 ms. Dose lines are painted by changing the velocity of the scan magnets. The instantaneous dose rate of the pencil beam can be varied dynamically as well. The dose is precisely controlled with a feedback loop connecting the main gantry beam monitor with a vertical deflector plate at the ion source.

These new fast scanning modes should be used for providing scanning with repainting, gating and tracking for treating moving targets. The goal is to develop pencil beam scanning as a universal beam delivery solution capable of treating optimally all possible clinical indications for proton therapy. Scanning could then completely replace the old beam delivery methods based on passive scattering from the market.

The long term projects of Gantry 2 should represent the new contributions of PSI to the proton therapy field in the next 5-10 years, by providing direct translational cancer research from the physics laboratory into industry and clinics.