Response functions for computing absorbed dose to skeletal tissues from neutron irradiation

Amir A. Bahadori, Perry Johnson, Derek W. Jokisch, Keith F. Eckerman, Wesley E. Bolch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Spongiosa in the adult human skeleton consists of three tissues - active marrow (AM), inactive marrow (IM) and trabecularized mineral bone (TB). AM is considered to be the target tissue for assessment of both long-term leukemia risk and acute marrow toxicity following radiation exposure. The total shallow marrow (TM50), defined as all tissues lying within the first 50 νm of the bone surfaces, is considered to be the radiation target tissue of relevance for radiogenic bone cancer induction. For irradiation by sources external to the body, kerma to homogeneous spongiosa has been used as a surrogate for absorbed dose to both of these tissues, as direct dose calculations are not possible using computational phantoms with homogenized spongiosa. Recent micro-CT imaging of a 40 year old male cadaver has allowed for the accurate modeling of the fine microscopic structure of spongiosa in many regions of the adult skeleton (Hough et al 2011 Phys. Med. Biol. 56 2309-46). This microstructure, along with associated masses and tissue compositions, was used to compute specific absorbed fraction (SAF) values for protons originating in axial and appendicular bone sites (Jokisch et al 2011 Phys. Med. Biol. 56 6857-72). These proton SAFs, bone masses, tissue compositions and proton production cross sections, were subsequently used to construct neutron dose-response functions (DRFs) for both AM and TM50 targets in each bone of the reference adult male. Kerma conditions were assumed for other resultant charged particles. For comparison, AM, TM50 and spongiosa kerma coefficients were also calculated. At low incident neutron energies, AM kerma coefficients for neutrons correlate well with values of the AM DRF, while total marrow (TM) kerma coefficients correlate well with values of the TM 50 DRF. At high incident neutron energies, all kerma coefficients and DRFs tend to converge as charged-particle equilibrium is established across the bone site. In the range of 10 eV to 100 MeV, substantial differences are observed among the kerma coefficients and DRF. As a result, it is recommended that the AM kerma coefficient be used to estimate the AM DRF, and that the TM kerma coefficient be used to estimate the TM50 DRF below 10 eV. Between 10 eV and 100 MeV, the appropriate DRF should be used as presented in this study. Above 100 MeV, spongiosa kerma coefficients apply well for estimating skeletal tissue doses. DRF values for each bone site as a function of energy are provided in an electronic annex to this article available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6873-6897
Number of pages25
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 7 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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