29 June 2005
New Linear Accelerator For Oncology At Christchurch Hospital
A new $3.5m state-of-the-art Linear Accelerator was installed on Oncology Services at Christchurch Hospital this week. The first patients were treated yesterday (Tuesday).
This was a major ‘first’ for the CDHB and for the patients, the equipment being not only the latest in technology but also the first of its kind to be installed in New Zealand and Australia. The new machine is manufactured by a US company Varian, and has several new capabilities that have the potential for delivering more accurate and effective treatment of cancer using radiation.
Clinical Director of Radiation Oncology Dr Chris Wynne described the new Linear Accelerator as a ‘remarkable machine’ with capabilities surpassing previous models. The CDHB’s principal physicist Graham Sorrell said he suspected New Zealand centres which replaced their aging accelerators in recent years might be regretting that this advanced technology was not available to them.
‘Since Christchurch ordered its machine, several have been ordered for clinics in Melbourne and Perth,’ he said. ‘It is intended that we collaborate with these centres so that as we bring the Accelerator’s new features on line we will be able to do so in a way that achieves the greatest improvement in treatment of our patients.’
The new machine has on-board imaging which takes diagnostic quality images of the treatment volume immediately before treatment starts allowing minute shifts of the patient to administer the treatment with pinpoint accuracy. It also provides ‘respiratory gated’ treatment whereby the machine switches on when a tumour which moves with breathing motion is at the position where it moves least, the machine being switched off at all other times.
The machine is capable of delivering computer-controlled beams of non-uniform intensity from several directions which combine to give a treatment volume that maximises the dose of radiation to the tumour and minimises the dose to adjacent areas.