GPU-based Monte Carlo radiotherapy dose calculation using phase-space sources

Reid W. Townson, Xun Jia, Zhen Tian, Yan Jiang Graves, Sergei Zavgorodni, Steve B. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


A novel phase-space source implementation has been designed for graphics processing unit (GPU)-based Monte Carlo dose calculation engines. Short of full simulation of the linac head, using a phase-space source is the most accurate method to model a clinical radiation beam in dose calculations. However, in GPU-based Monte Carlo dose calculations where the computation efficiency is very high, the time required to read and process a large phase-space file becomes comparable to the particle transport time. Moreover, due to the parallelized nature of GPU hardware, it is essential to simultaneously transport particles of the same type and similar energies but separated spatially to yield a high efficiency. We present three methods for phase-space implementation that have been integrated into the most recent version of the GPU-based Monte Carlo radiotherapy dose calculation package gDPM v3.0. The first method is to sequentially read particles from a patient-dependent phase-space and sort them on-the-fly based on particle type and energy. The second method supplements this with a simple secondary collimator model and fluence map implementation so that patient-independent phase-space sources can be used. Finally, as the third method (called the phase-space-let, or PSL, method) we introduce a novel source implementation utilizing pre-processed patient-independent phase-spaces that are sorted by particle type, energy and position. Position bins located outside a rectangular region of interest enclosing the treatment field are ignored, substantially decreasing simulation time with little effect on the final dose distribution. The three methods were validated in absolute dose against BEAMnrc/DOSXYZnrc and compared using gamma-index tests (2%/2 mm above the 10% isodose). It was found that the PSL method has the optimal balance between accuracy and efficiency and thus is used as the default method in gDPM v3.0. Using the PSL method, open fields of 4 × 4, 10 × 10 and 30 × 30 cm2 in water resulted in gamma passing rates of 99.96%, 99.92% and 98.66%, respectively. Relative output factors agreed within 1%. An intensity modulated radiation therapy patient plan using the PSL method resulted in a passing rate of 97%, and was calculated in 50 s (per GPU) compared to 8.4 h (per CPU) for BEAMnrc/DOSXYZnrc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4341-4356
Number of pages16
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 21 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'GPU-based Monte Carlo radiotherapy dose calculation using phase-space sources'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this