Kilovoltage X-RAYS

Authored by: Philip Mayles

Handbook of Radiotherapy Physics

Print publication date:  June  2007
Online publication date:  June  2007

Print ISBN: 9780750308601
eBook ISBN: 9781420012026
Adobe ISBN:


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Kilovoltage x-rays were the first form of external beam therapy to be used. Because of their inadequate penetrative qualities it was necessary to use multiple overlapping beams to deliver a high dose to the tumour while keeping within tissue tolerance. At kilovoltage energies the photoelectric effect makes a significant contribution to the absorbed dose especially in higher atomic number materials such as bone. The soft tissue within trabecular bone receives an enhanced dose (see Section 6.7.3), which is normally undesirable. Kilovoltage x-rays are used mostly for superficial lesions and for palliative treatments. In modern radiotherapy many superficial lesions could also be treated with electrons. However there are some disadvantages in using electrons for superficial lesions. For instance, with low energy electrons it is difficult to obtain an accurate and uniform dose for small fields or for an irregular patient surface (see Chapter 24 and Chapter 34) and they may not be ideal for eye treatments (see Section 21.5).

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