ABR Radiologic Physics Part 1 Exam – How to Prepare?

January 31, 2010 · Posted in Board Certification, Books · 2 Comments 

With the upcoming ABR Physics exams this summer, we have received several questions in regards to how to prepare. If you are taking Part 1 this summer, concentrate on that; don’t concern yourself with Parts 2 and the Oral examination (just yet). That said, the first thing you will want to do is review the topics covered on Part 1 of the physics exam. Fortunately, the ABR has laid out the subjects you will be tested on in the Initial Certification Study Guide. The ABR has yet (as far as we have heard) to veer from those topics, so you will not be tested on subjects outside their study guide. In fact, the guide is quite accurate in terms of the scope of the questions you will be asked. The next thing you will want to do is gather resources that cover those topics well.

The internet is strewn with information that is helpful in prepping; the resources are scattered through the Web and take time to find. One site worth bookmarking provides lecture notes on several physics topics listed in the Initial Certification Study Guide as well as a few practice questions. Another site with lecture notes on relevant topics is the course site for Diagnostic Radiology Imaging Physics at UW. More practice question can be found here and here (though at this site, you will have to register to access the free tests).

Your main allies will be your own lecture notes and good prep books. While cross-referencing is always helpful, the following texts have been helpful to other students who took the ABR Part 1 Physics exam in the past. The first is “Review of Radiologic Physics” by Walter Huda. The book is 272 pages with over 500 practice questions, and the material covered is high-yield. The next two texts are pricey, but serve as good reference texts to have in your possession. They are “The Essential Physics of Medical Imaging” by Bushberg et al and “Medical Imaging Physics” by William Hendee and E. Russell Ritenour. We have also heard that reviewing Raphex exam questions is also key in preparing. There are still a few copies of the very old exams available for purchase on Amazon.com. You can also find copies of recent exams for free on the Web: Raphex 2006 Questions and Answers, Raphex 1998 Questions, Raphex 1997 Questions and the Raphex 1997 Answers.

Last, but certainly not least, talk to people who have taken the exam within the last few years. They will be able to tell you what the ABR has been stressing on the exam these days. Ask them how they prepped and what they found to be useful. Start early, and with the resources listed above in addition to those you locate on your own, you should be well-prepared to tackle Part 1 with ease and success.

Calculating Polarity Correction Factor

December 29, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification, Dosimetry · Comment 

AAPM’s TG-51 protocol for clinical reference dosimetry of high-energy photon and electron beams contains many details to which we should pay close attention when performing necessary measurements for the calibration of high-energy beams. One such measurement is calculating the polarity correction factor (Ppol) for ionization chambers used in electron beam dosimetry. Since polarity effects vary with beam quality and other conditions (such as cable position), one must correct for these effects by making measurements each time clinical reference dosimetry is performed. To correct an ion chamber’s raw reading for polarity effects it is necessary to take readings with both polarities applied and tabulate Ppol by the following equation: Read more

Practice ABR Radiologic Physics Oral Board Exam

November 15, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is offering a Diagnostic Radiologic Physics Mock Oral Board Exam the weekend of April 17-18, 2010. Participation is limited, so sign up early. The practice exam dates have been added to the MDPhysics Event Calendar. The mock exam aims to provide the student with a simulation of the ABR oral exam environment by using similar exam format, questions and board-certified examiners.

This mock exam has been offered internally to physics residents and junior faculty with great success, and participation is now being extended outside MD Anderson. All proceeds (tuition is $500) will support medical physics educational programs at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

After taking the mock board exam, the student will be familiar with his or her individual areas of weakness to improve with additional study before the actual board exam. In addition, the mock board exam will allow for practicing the expression of coherent answers in a risk-free setting. Examiners will provide some guidance and feedback to the student on his or her performance.

For more information proceed to Imaging Physics Department’s education page or contact Georgeann Moore at gmoore@di.mdacc.tmc.edu.

The course brochure and application can be found here.

For the ABR examinees this week: You Will Pass If…

August 31, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

These are some encouraging statements for those taking the ABR Physics exam next week. I learned them through different stages of my life (when I was taking either academic or board exams). Here they are:

1- If it has been a priority of yours to be ABR certified, you’ll pass.

2- If you have studied hard enough, you’ll pass.

3- If I and other physicists have passed the board, you’ll pass too.

4- If you have studied so hard that you feel you know nothing, you’ll pass.

5- If you have studied hard and still are panicking, you’ll pass.

6- If you think you know everything, you’ll fail.

7- The night before the exam, do whatever you feel like. The day of the exam, be relaxed and focused, have confidence. On the exam, do the ones you know first. If you’re stumped on one question, take a deep breath and go to the next one (repeat, if necessary).

8- If you don’t pass this year, you will pass eventually.

9- We’d like you to post exam questions on this blog for discussion, so please post them soon afterward before you forget them! (Trust me, I forgot my questions within several days after my exam)

10- Good luck!

ABR Practice Exam Question 6 – D90/V100 Prostate Seed Implant

August 30, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

From a post-plan CT following a prostate seed implant, a physicist reported that D90 is equal to 80% of the prescribed dose and V100 is 95. What does he means by that statement?

1- The minimum dose to 90% of the target volume is equal to 80% of prescribed dose; and, 100% of the target volume receives 95% of prescribed dose.

2- The 90% isodose line covers 80% of the target volume; and, 95% of the target volume receives 100% of the prescribed dose.

3- 100% of the target volume receives 95% of the prescribed dose; and, the 90% isodose line covers 80% of the target volume.

4- The minimum dose to 90% of the target volume is equal to 80% of prescribed dose; and, 95% of the target volume receives 100% of the dose.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 6

ABR Practice Exam Question 5 – Cesium-131 Brachytherapy

August 26, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · 5 Comments 

Which of these statements is/are correct regarding a Cesium-131 brachytherapy source?

1- It emits gamma rays with a peak energy of 662 KeV.

2- Its half-value layer is around 5.5 mm lead.

3- Its half-life is 9.7 days.

4- Statements 1 and 2 are correct only.

5- None of the statements are correct.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 5.

ABR Practice Exam Question 4 – Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI)

August 22, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · 1 Comment 

Which of these statements is/are not correct regarding “Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation” (APBI)?

1- APBI can be treated with external beam and mammosite only.

2- External beam based approaches seem to minimize the risk of seroma formation and infection compared to brachytherapy.

3- Radiation dose to uninvolved ipsilateral breast, heart and lung using brachytherapy technique is lower than other techniques.

4- IMRT technique improves upon 3D-CRT approach by enhancing conformity dose to tumor with a possible increase radiation dose to the uninvolved ipsilateral breast, heart and lung.

5- The PTV used for brachytherapy planning is typically smaller than the PTV for external beam technique, however, brachytherapy results in a significant dose inhomogenity.

Don’t take the exam if you don’t know the answer of this question.

Some of our readers have recommended that we do not post the answer at the same time as we post the question. We think it is a good suggestion, as it gives the readers a chance to think about the answer. Therefore, the answer will be posted within a couple of days.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 4.

ABR Practice Exam Question 3 – Time Error

August 15, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

To measure Time Error for a therapy machine (Co-60), a physicist took two different output measurements at two different time intervals. The result is listed below:

minute Exposure
T1 = 1 R1 = 100
T2 = 2 R2 = 201

What is the time error for this machine?

1- 0.59 seconds
2- 1 seconds
3- 0.29 seconds
4- 1.18 seconds
5- Cannot be determined from the data

Note: Co-60 machines may be out of the picture, but there may be a question on C0-60 machines on the exam. Although Time Error can be applicable to all therapy machines, it’s more applicable to Co machines.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 3.

ABR Practice Exam Question 2 – Shielding

August 11, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

In a shielding evaluation (Survey) of a new vault that housed a Varian linear accelerator, In-Any-One-Hour Time Averaged Dose Equivalent Rate (Rh) was found to be 2.5 mr/hr in the unrestricted area. Which of the following are true?  (There may be multiple answers)

1- Rh is only applicable for a restricted area.

2- It is over the limit for restricted area and some action should be taken.

3- It is over the limit for unrestricted area and some action should be taken.

4- Rh is only applicable for radioactive materials shielding survey.

5- Value of Rh depends on average number of patient treatments in any one hour and the weekly time averaged dose equivalent rate.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 2.

ABR Practice Exam Question 1 – Dose Decay

August 9, 2009 · Posted in Board Certification · Comment 

For those of you preparing to take the ABR exam this September, here is a problem for you (because it’s August–one month away from your test date–and you can never do too many practice problems!). Stay tuned for more practice problems in the coming month.

A prostate I-125 seed implant patient would like to know what fraction of the dose is delivered to the tumor in 10, 60, and 80 days after the implant.

Click here for the answer to ABR Practice Exam Question 1.

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