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The Average Lifespan of Elekta Linear Accelerator Parts

The Average Lifespan of Elekta Linear Accelerator Parts

When entering into a service agreement for an Elekta linear accelerator, it’s useful to know the lifespan of the parts, which can vary according to patient load and dose-rate at your radiation oncology practice. Depending on the type of service contract you have, this information can provide useful guidance on the repair and maintenance estimates over the many years you may be using your Elekta machine.

In the chart below, we have provided the average lifespan of various parts, based on feedback provided by facilities with differing levels of patient loads.

Part High use system
 (35+ patients/day)
Moderate use system
 (<30 patients/day)
Low use  system
(15 patients/day)
Magnetron 2 yrs 5–6 yrs 5-6 yrs
X-ray tube 18 months 3 yrs 4+ yrs
XVI detector 5 yrs 7 yrs 10+ yrs
iView detector 2 yrs 4 yrs 4 yrs
Electron gun 1 yr N/A N/A
Thyratron tube 3 yrs 5 yrs 5+ yrs
Ion chamber 3–4 yrs 3–4 yrs N/A
Reflectors 2–3 yrs 2–3 yrs N/A
MLC camera 2–3 yrs (old type); much longer now 2–3 yrs (old type); much longer now N/A

The magnetron has significantly different expectations for lifespan depending on the model year of your Elekta linear accelerator. Many newer machines do not use a feedback system (generally those operating at or below 18 MV, like the Elekta Compact) and thus may need the magnetron replaced within 3-4 years. Older machines and those operating above 18 MV typically have a feedback system with a magnetron that can last up to 10 years.

The electron gun on a high-use linear accelerator can be replaced after a year, but can last over six years on a very low-use linac.

The thyatron tube, which delivers the pulses to the electron gun, has a consistent lifespan regardless of usage; feedback indicates a baseline expectation of three years, with five years as a reasonable upper bound.

Elekta linear accelerators’ ion chamber is a part that can be especially affected by local climate. High humidity can shorten its lifespan by two-thirds, with an average ion chamber needing replaced within four years and one in a high humidity location possibly as soon as one year from first use.

We’ve talked previously about the costs of replacing X-ray tubes in CT Simulators, but some of the same points apply here. Patient load widely affects the lifespan of the X-ray tube: at lower usage levels, your tube may last several years before needing replaced (one facility has used the same tube for over six years), but a higher daily patient load drops the number significantly.

Newer models in the Elekta linear accelerator line include the Versa and the Infinity/Axesse. Particularly with the Versa (in production since 2013), some of the upper bounds on part lifespan are yet to be determined. However, looking at some of the lifespan figures on earlier models can help frame expectations. High usage rates will always affect parts like the X-ray tube and the electron gun, but the MLC camera has a consistent lifespan.

Hopefully we were able to provide some insight when trying to determine the most appropriate service agreement for your Elekta linear accelerator. As usual, many factors can affect the lifespan of the parts, including but not limited to climate and humidity levels, patient load, and dose rates. For more information on Elekta linacs, parts, service agreements, or anything else related to radiation oncology, please contact info@oncologysystems.com or visit oncologysystems.com.

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