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The Monte Carlo Method in Medical Radiation Physics

Postgraduate course


The aim of the course is to introduce the PhD students to the Monte Carlo-methods for simulation of the interaction of photons and charged particles, which mainly apply to applications in image generation and dosimetry. The theory behind interactions of photon and charged particles (electrons and protons) will be examined in detail and with this, different type of methods and algorithms for how these theories can effectively be implemented in Monte Carlo codes. Two different types of programs for Monte Carlo simulations will form the basis of courses and their structure and possibilities/limitations will be presented in detail. The scope of these programmes will be discussed in detail and the intention is by giving the course participants the opportunity to immerse themselves within one of the programmes by as an individual task formulate and solve a problem to solve or to studying a particular phenomenon with one of these programmes.

Learning outcomes

Theory part (NME005F): The doctoral student must after completing the course have  gained knowledge of relevant processes  important for radiation production and interactions in a  patient's  geometry  or for an experimental measurement geometries  and how to simulate the transport of radiation in these objects with Monte Carlo methodology to calculate distributions of deposited energy or other, for our field, relevant parameters. The doctoral student should be able to account for  the assumptions and approximations that form the basis of these programs and which thus affect the accuracy of the calculated results  and be able to identify and discuss relevant issues where these programs are applicable.

Theory part +fordepth part  (NME004F): In addition to the above,the doctoral student must also have conducted an in-depth study based on one of the programmes that have been demonstrated in  NME005F and then, with the help of this program, solve a practical problem, which may be related to the doctoral student's research assignment. The learning goal will then be to install software and conduct initial tests to ensure that the program gives reasonable results based on the test studies and to formulate an issue within a sub-area of Medical Radiation Physics where the Monte Carlo program that have been chosen can provide new insight and, based on thel earning outcomes in the theory part above, account for the result and its importance in a more in-depth way for the sub-area that the doctoral student has chosen to focus on.

Forms of teaching

The teaching takes place  full-time in the form of two parts

  1. Part 1: A theory part in the form of lectures given over a specific shedule and period of time and where the basic characteristics of the Monte Carlo program, which is the basis for courses, are described,  and

  2. Part 2: an in-depth part given in the form of individual assignment sat assigned to the doctoral student and which has the purpose of  providing a deeper knowledge in a specific field, defined primarily by the doctoral student and who has a clear connection to the teaching elements given in the theory part.

The theory part of 2.5 credits can also be carried out separately if desired (course code  NME005F)


In the theory part (NME005F), the examination is based on attendance  at compulsory parts (all lectures) and  on  a written reflective  report. For the course as a whole (NME004F), the examination is in addition also based on an individual in-depth work  that will presented both in writing and orally.


The grades on the course are passed or not passed. To pass the entire course (NME004F, 7.5 credits) is required attendance at all compulsory parts in the theory part, approved reflective report and approved written and oral presentation of the in-depth work. To pass the theory part only (NME005F),  attendance is required at all compulsory parts of the theory part  and approved reflective report.

Other information

  • To registrate - send an email to Michael Ljungberg (michael[dot]ljungberg[at]med[dot]lu[dot]se) with your name, affiliation and in what sub-topic of Medical Radiation Physics your your PhD projects are focus on. The number of participants to attend NME004F can be restricted.

  • Part of the course part can be given in English.

  • This course has been confirmed by the board of faculty's board of doctoral education 2020-05-11. 

  • Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the course will be a virtual course, held with the use of Zoom video conference system. The lectures with be  ‘live’ but recorded and these will be available for the participants to watch. Each lecture will be around 2 hours long including breaks. In order to receive the credits for the course, the PhD students needs to participate in all the lectures. More information about this will be published on this site.


  • David Sarrut, Creatis Medical Imaging Research Center, Lyon, France (DS)

  • Tommy Knöös, Medical Radiation Physics,  Lund University (TK)

  • Philip Kalaitzidis, Medical Radiation Physics, Lund University (PK)

  • Michael Ljungberg, Medical Radiation Physics,  Lund University (MLJ)


October 12th at 10-12: Introduction to Monte Carlo method and to Photon Simulations

  1. Introduction to the course (MLJ)

  2. Applications of MC in Diagnostic Imaging (MLJ)

  3. Applications of MC in External Radiotherapy and Radionuclide Radiotherapy (TK)

October 13th at 10-12: The SIMIND Monte Carlo Code - I

  1. Structure, installation and operation (MLJ)

  2. Demonstrations and exercises with SIMIND (MLJ)

October 14th at 10-12: The SIMIND Monte Carlo Code - II

  1. Point source simulations - energy spectrum, imaging, multiple energy windows (ScattWin)

  2. Demonstrations and exercises with SIMIND (MLJ)

October 15th at 10-12: Computer Phantoms 

  1. Introduction to voxel-based phantoms -  zubal phantoms, xcat phantom. (MLJ)

  2. Demonstrations and exercises with SIMIND (MLJ)

October 16th at 10-12: The SIMIND Monte Carlo Code - III

  1. SPECT and Whole-Body simulations  (MLJ)

  2. Demonstrations and exercises with SIMIND (MLJ)

 October 27th at 10-12: What’s under the hood in MC programs – I

  1. Photon interactions – theory (MLJ)

  2. Variance reduction methods. (MLJ)

  3. Cross-sections and related Internet resources (MLJ)

October 29th at 10-12: What’s under the hood in MC programs – II

  1. Charged particle interactions with matter – theory (TK)

  2. Implementation of theory into Monte Carlo simulations – approximations and limitations (TK)

November 9th at 10-12: Introduction to the GATE Code system – I

  1. Introduction to the GATE code system (DS)

  2. Setting up the vGate (DS)

  3. Macros,  etc

November 12th at 10-12:  Introduction to the GATE Code system - II

  1. PET - Lectures and exercises with GATE (DS)

November 13th at 10-12: Introduction to the GATE Code system - III

  1. RadioTherapy - Exercises with the GATE  (DS)

November 16th at 10-12: Tomographic reconstruction of data from GATE and SIMIND

  1. Introduction to the Castor Reconstruction Program (PK)

  2. Preparing for Castor reconstruction of GATE PET data (PK)

  3. Preparing for Castor reconstruction of SIMIND SPECT data (MLJ)

November 17th at 10-12: Summary of Part 1 of the course

  1. Questions to the teachers (DS,MLJ,TK,PK)

  2. Short description from each participants of their proposed projects for Part 2 of the course.

Lecture notes can be found here. Note that this zip file is password protected and the content will be updated as the course are continuing

Resources and useful links


Reference literature