PURPOSE: While critical for safe and accurate radiotherapy, monthly quality assurance of medical linear accelerators is time-consuming and takes physics resources away from other valuable tasks. The previous methods at our institution required 5 hours to perform the mechanical and dosimetric monthly linear accelerator quality assurance tests. An improved workflow was developed to perform these tests with higher accuracy, with fewer error pathways, in significantly less time.METHODS: A commercial ion chamber array (IC profiler, Sun Nuclear, Melbourne, Florida) is combined with automation scripts to consolidate monthly linear accelerator QA. The array was used to measure output, flatness, symmetry, jaw positions, gated dose constancy, energy constancy, collimator walkout, crosshair centering, and dosimetric leaf gap constancy. Treatment plans were combined with automation scripts that interface with Sun Nuclear's graphical user interface. This workflow was implemented on a standard Varian clinac, with no special adaptations, and can be easily applied to other C-arm linear accelerators.RESULTS: These methods enable, in 30 minutes, measurement and analysis of 20 of the 26 dosimetric and mechanical monthly tests recommended by TG-142. This method also reduces uncertainties in the measured beam profile constancy, beam energy constancy, field size, and jaw position tests, compared to our previous methods. One drawback is the increased uncertainty associated with output constancy. Output differences between IC profiler and farmer chamber in plastic water measurements over a 6-month period, across 4 machines, were found to have a 0.3% standard deviation for photons and a 0.5% standard deviation for electrons, which is sufficient for verifying output accuracy according to TG-142 guidelines. To minimize error pathways, automation scripts which apply the required settings, as well as check the exported data file integrity were employed.CONCLUSIONS: The equipment, procedure, and scripts used here reduce the time burden of routine quality assurance tests and in most instances improve precision over our previous methods.
View details for DOI 10.1177/1533033819876897
View details for PubMedID 31707931