Radiation Oncology Teaching Hospital Solution
The old adage you learn something new every day is true. Even when you’ve provided linear accelerators (linacs) and CT scanners to facilities around the world for years, you can still encounter a customer needing a unique solution. Radiology Oncology Systems (ROS) of San Diego recently completed one such project: a teaching hospital in Brooklyn had a very specific need within a specific budget and timeframe. New York Methodist Hospital’s Center for Allied Health Education, a radiation oncology teaching hospital, reached out to ROS about acquiring a patient-positioning system for use in training their students.
The unique constraints in this situation? New York Methodist needed a functioning stand-alone treatment table (couch) installed in a classroom setting so that students could observe and participate. Typically, couches are integrated and operated through the linear accelerator console. ROS was happy to accept the challenge. ROS spoke to New York Methodist to get a solution that worked within their budgetary and space requirements. The solution they found was to install a functioning couch without its accompanying linear accelerator.
A Couch Without a Linear Accelerator
The couch is the part of the linear accelerator that the patient lies on during treatment. The couch has some different movements, and is attached to the linac which moves around the couch as well. This movement is done to position the linear accelerator and patient for precise treatment. There are usually four lasers along the perimeters of the machine involved in the process as well: one above, one sagittal and positioned at the foot, and then one on the right and one on the left.
Because the machine comes in one piece, ROS needed to work with its engineers to attach the relevant positioning parts of the linear accelerator to just the couch without the arm of the linac. Having the stand-alone couch in the classroom setting would still allow the students to practice positioning of patients using the logistical equipment of a state-of-the-art linear accelerator without the requirement of the linac being present. ROS worked with their engineers to ensure the couch had the same functionality and controls as if it was still attached to the linac.
ROS decided to use a couch with an “Exact Top”. A stand-alone control box was built for the couch. Lasers were also installed in the classroom for patient-positioning practice.
There were logistical constraints to getting the couch into the facility in Brooklyn. The couch was in a warehouse in California, so it needed to be shipped to Brooklyn. The engineers needed to install the couch with no base frame (normally the couch is bolted to a turntable which is attached to the base frame). With no linear accelerator, ROS modified the couch so that it was safely anchored to the concrete of the floor as well as connected to the control box (a small joystick unit that controls the couch). The control box was set up while the couch was in California, with the team making sure all necessary components were installed and ready to go. Doing this work ahead of time meant that there was less set up once the couch was at the hospital, and less downtime for the teacher and students.
ROS’s engineers looked at the classroom drawings to determine best fit within the classroom to maximize access and viewing for students. This included making sure that the wires were not a tripping hazard and that students could see everything. ROS often helps out in setting up the vault for isocenter: engineers often give valuable input and advice to the customer’s construction team. ROS then worked with the facility to have proper power coming into room for this specific equipment.
And all of the actual installation was completed in a two-day period. The engineers and installation techs thought on their feet and solved problems as they arose, and our team saved on-site time by setting up some control components prior to shipping. The end result was an education facility getting the equipment it needed under space and budgetary constraints, with a very short installation time.
Talk to ROS today if you are in need of a unique solution for your facility. Our specialists and engineers are always eager for a new challenge.
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