U.S. Particle Accelerator School

Medical Accelerators course

Sponsoring University:

University of New Mexico


Medical Accelerators


Bruce Faddegon and Jose Ramos Mendez, University of California, San Francisco; David Robin, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Lucas Brouwer, University of California, Berkeley

Purpose and Audience
This course bridges the gap between the principles of accelerator systems and the requirements of x-ray and charged particle beams in radiation therapy. The course is useful for accelerator physicists and engineers interested in learning about radiotherapy and medical physicists interested in learning about accelerator design. Some familiarity with basic particle acceleration fundamentals and ionizing radiation is useful. Cross-fertilization can lead to new ideas or new careers.

Basic knowledge of charged particle accelerators and optics at the USPAS undergraduate course "Accelerator Fundamentals" level or equivalent.

It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that he or she meets the course prerequisites or has equivalent experience.

This course identifies the requirements of x-ray and charged particle beams used in radiotherapy and analyzes these requirements in terms of the accelerator and devices used to modify the beam and image the patient. Find out how accelerators are used in the medical field, and conversely, find out how well accelerators perform for medical applications. Monte Carlo techniques have an important role as a learning tool in the course and a design tool for accelerators and radiation treatments.

Instructional Method
Class lectures are used to provide background knowledge in accelerators and radiotherapy, derive basic principles, review useful tools for calculation, and elucidate medical requirements and accelerator performance. Practical problems with real world subtleties are assigned to help connect the parts. Computer labs will include Monte Carlo simulation of charged particle and x-ray beams used in radiotherapy.

Course Content
This course reviews some basic principles of particle acceleration and optics, sufficient to allow a determination of parameters and some tolerances. In addition, this course reviews the basic principles of medical physics as applied to radiation treatment. Specific topics include linear accelerators, synchrotrons, cyclotrons, beam lines, multiple scattering, x-ray processes, particle diagnostics, radiation dosimetry, radiotherapy, and Monte Carlo simulation in radiotherapy.

Reading Requirements
(to be provided by the USPAS) "Monte Carlo Techniques in Radiation Therapy", eds. Joao Seco and Frank Verhaegen, Taylor and Francis, 2013. A bibliography of published papers and reports will be provided in electronic form.

Credit Requirements
Students will be evaluated based on performance: final report or final exam (25% of final grade), homework assignments (50% of final grade), and class participation (25% of final grade).

IU/USPAS course number P671