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Robotic measurement device to boost radiotherapy treatments

Photo Credit: University of Wollongong

A Physicist from the University of Wollongong (UOW) Centre for Medical Radiation Physics and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute has been nominated for his work on a world-first robotic measurement device for use in complex radiotherapy treatments.

According to a recent press release, the device is designed to ensure radiation is correctly delivered to tumours while avoiding healthy tissue damage.

Benefits of the device

It has the potential to reduce radiation treatment-related errors and significantly improve patient safety in high-precision cancer radiotherapy in Australia and worldwide.

It will allow clinicians to know whether they are targeting the tumour correctly and whether the radiation dose is correct.

It is a world-first quality assurance device that can mimic tumour motion and can be used in the clinic to validate the treatment accuracies for targeted radiation therapy for cancer treatments.

During radiation therapy, tumours move. They translate and rotate.

Modern radiation therapy technologies can now track this motion and adapt the radiation beam or the patient to the treatment to minimise any errors in the radiation.

Advances in radiotherapy have led to technologies that can track the motion of a tumour during treatment and adapt the radiation beam or shift the patient to avoid damage to healthy tissue sites.

It is vital to guarantee that the x-rays hit the target precisely because of the large radiation doses prescribed.

The Project

The Physicist worked in collaboration with the ACRF Image X Institute at the University of Sydney.

In 18 months, he was able to accomplish several things. These are:

  1. Build a robotically controlled prototype
  2. Develop unique software to mimic the patient motion
  3. Validate the device in the clinic using a commercial clinical tracking system

One of the most important aspects for clinical translation is having a really strong relationship with the clinical centres and the hospitals as well as being able to develop something in the lab and getting it into the hospitals.

One of the biggest motivations in developing hardware and software is developing something that someone else can use and have benefit for.

Added information

He was nominated for the award because of his extremely important skill in developing hardware and software, and especially radiation detectors.

This is the future of medical physics and patient safety. It is the future of better treatment of cancer.

Westmead Hospital is now using the device for patient quality assurance under a clinical trial for treating liver cancers. The trial is expected to expand to other sites.

The Centre for Medical Radiation Physics (CMRP) is a research team within the School of Physics, University of Wollongong.

The team is dedicated towards the development of semiconductor detectors and dosimeters for clinical applications in radiation protection, radiation oncology and nuclear medicine as well as high energy physics applications.

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