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Innovations in Computer Technologies Have Impacted Radiation Dosimetry Through Anatomically Realistic Phantoms and Fast Monte Carlo Simulations

George Xu, X.1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001007

Radiological physics principles have not changed in the past 60 y when computer technologies advanced exponentially. The research field of anatomical modeling for the purpose of radiation dose calculations has experienced an explosion in activity in the past two decades. Such an exciting advancement is due to the feasibility of creating three-dimensional geometric details of the human anatomy from tomographic imaging and of performing Monte Carlo radiation transport simulations on increasingly fast and cheap personal computers. The advent of a new type of high-performance computing hardware in recent years—graphics processing units—has made it feasible to carry out time-consuming Monte Carlo calculations at near real-time speeds. This paper introduces the history of three generations of computational human phantoms (the stylized medical internal radiation dosimetry-type phantoms, the voxelized tomographic phantoms, and the boundary representation deformable phantoms) and new development of the graphics processing unit-based Monte Carlo radiation dose calculations. Examples are given for research projects performed by my students in applying computational phantoms and a new Monte Carlo code, ARCHER, to problems in radiation protection, imaging, and radiotherapy. Finally, the paper discusses challenges and future opportunities for research.

1JEC 5049, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th St., Troy, NY 12180.

The author is the cofounder of Virtual Phantoms, Inc., which commercializes the VirtualDose and ARCHER software technologies.

For correspondence contact the author at the above address, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 18 September 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society