Monte Carlo simulator of realistic x-ray beam for diagnostic applications

Marco Bontempi, Lucia Andreani, Pier Luca Rossi, Andrea Visani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Monte Carlo simulation is a very useful tool for radiotherapy and diagnostic radiology. Yet even with the latest PCs, simulation of photon spectra emitted by an x-ray tube is a time-consuming task, potentially reducing the possibility to obtain relevant data such as dose evaluations, simulation of geometric settings, or monitor detector efficiency. This study developed and validated a method to generate random numbers for realistic beams in terms of photon spectrum and intensity to simulate x-ray tubes via Monte Carlo algorithms. Methods: Starting from literature data, the most common semiempirical models of bremsstrahlung are analyzed and implemented, adjusting their formulation to describe a large irradiation area (i.e., large field of view) and to take account of the heel effect as in common practice during patient examinations. Results: Simulation results show that Birch and Marshall's model is the fastest and most accurate for the aims of this work. Correction of the geometric size of the beam and validation of the intensity variation (heel effect) yielded excellent results with differences between experimental and simulated data of less than 6%. Conclusions: The results of validation and execution time showed that the tube simulator calculates the x-ray photons quickly and efficiently and is perfectly capable of considering all the phenomena occurring in a real beam (total filtration, focal spot size, and heel effect), so it can be used in a wide range of applications such as industry, medical physics, or quality assurance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4201-4209
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • beam shaping
  • bremsstrahlung
  • Monte Carlo
  • radiography
  • x-ray production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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