Safely Delivering Radiation Using Linear Accelerator Equipment
Linac, short for linear accelerator, is a piece of medical equipment used in radiology. It matches high powered x-ray energy up with the shape of cancerous tumors, destroying the cancerous cells while preserving the healthy tissue surrounding the area. Using a linear accelerator, oncology radiologists can be sure that a higher does than what has been prescribed is not being delivered to the area. The machines are frequently checked by medical physicists to ensure proper function.
As a patient needing radiation therapy a treatment plan is developed specifically for you with the support of experts including a radiation oncologist, a radiation dosimetrist and a medical physicist. Before the treatment begins your oncologist with double a triple check the plan and create a course of action to ensure that the radiation is delivered in the exact same manner each and every time.
LINAC devices are used to provide external beam radiation treatments for cancer patients. The linear accelerator treats various areas throughout the body. The concentrated x-ray beams are centered on the tumor in hope that the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor will be spared. The linear accelerator allows the x-rays to be sent in the shape of the tumor using blocks in the head of the machine or a multi-leaf collimator that is a part of the machine head.
During treatment the patient is positioned on a moveable couch like table. The patient remains still while the table and linear accelerator is moved into position for optimal treatment of the tumor. The linear accelerator is operated by a radiation therapist. This professional is in charge of actually delivering the correct dose of radiation prescribed by the radiation oncologist.
When radiation is delivered the safety of the patient and the therapist is of utmost importance. In order to ensure that the proper treatment plan is in place it is thoroughly checked by the radiation oncologist, radiation dosimetrist and physicist before the treatments are performed. Several quality control checks are in place to ensure that the treatment is given as prescribed.
Systems are built directly into the linear accelerator to ensure that a dose higher then what is prescribed is not delivered to the patient. Checks are preformed daily by the linear accelerator operator, radiation therapist, to make certain the radiation intensity is uniform across the beam and that the machine is in proper working order. On top of this the radiation physicist performs weekly and monthly checks on the machine. Modern day LINAC have internal systems that check the machine and do not allow it to be turned on until all of the treatment requirements are met. Patient and operator safety is of utmost important when radiation distribution is concerned.