Charged particle spectrometry to measure 10 B concentration in bone

Lucas Provenzano, Silva Bortolussi, Sara J. González, Ian Postuma, Nicoletta Protti, Agustina Portu, Maria Silvina Olivera, Luis Miguel Rodriguez, Daniel Fregenal, Saverio Altieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignant tumour of bone in young patients. The survival of these patients has largely been improved due to adjuvant and neo-adjuvant chemotherapy in addition to surgery. Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) is proposed as a complementary therapy, due to its ability to inactivate tumour cells that may survive the standard treatment and that may be responsible for recurrences and/or metastases. BNCT is based on neutron irradiation of a tumour enriched in 10 B with a boron-loaded drug. Low-energy neutron capture in 10 B creates charged particles that impart a high dose to tumour cells, which can be calculated only knowing the boron concentration. Charged particle spectrometry is a method that can be used to quantify boron concentration. This method requires acquisition of the energy spectra of charged particles such as alpha particles produced by neutron capture reactions in thin tissue sections irradiated with low-energy neutrons. Boron concentration is then determined knowing the stopping power of the alpha particles in the sample material. This paper describes the adaptation of this method for bone, with emphasis on sample preparation, experimental set-up and stopping power assessment of the involved alpha particles. The knowledge of boron concentration in healthy bones is important, because it allows for any dose limitation that might be necessary to avoid adverse effects such as bone fragility. The measurement process was studied through Monte Carlo simulations and analytical calculations. Finally, the boron content of bone samples was measured by alpha spectrometry at the TRIGA reactor in Pavia, Italy, and compared to that obtained by neutron autoradiography. The agreement between the results obtained with these techniques confirms the suitability of alpha spectrometry to measure boron in bone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-245
Number of pages9
JournalRadiation and Environmental Biophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Boron neutron capture therapy
  • Boron quantification
  • Charged particle spectrometry
  • Osteosarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiation
  • Environmental Science(all)


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