10/07/2020New positionPRO Improves Intracranial and Head and Neck Radiation Treatments
Improving Intracranial and Head and Neck Radiation Treatments with New Immobilization Solutions
One of the most important factors to ensure the success of Intracranial and head and neck radiation treatments deals with patient immobilization and positioning. Without an accurate and known position for treatment areas on the simulation couch top and the LINAC, it is impossible for technicians to accurately deliver the prescribed radiotherapy.
This challenge is even more critical for intracranial, C-spine, and head and neck treatments because of the close proximity of other vital and sensitive areas, and the typically small target size where radiation is to be delivered. In these situations, even small inaccuracies and uncertainties translate into large discrepancies on a percentage basis. An ideal solution should assist in ensuring positioning accuracy while enabling technicians to work more efficiently.
Innovative solution for patient immobilization and positioning
The new Aktina positionPRO™ modular immobilization system is designed for accuracy and implementation flexibility, while also supporting technician speed and efficiency. The combination of these feature attributes results in operational benefits as well as improved patient comfort.
Here are a few of the advantages provided by this innovative treatment solution:
1. Speed and ease of use
Aktina positionPRO combines patient immobilization with position correction in a single solution. The system’s interchangeable head support modules allow quick transitions between enhanced thermoplastic or vacuum fixation modes, saving valuable time.
2. Extreme accuracy
Aktina positionPRO is based upon a unique precision pitch and roll correcting overlay. When combined with a highly effective means of patient immobilization, the resulting treatment support system delivers the highly reliable and reproducible accuracy required for intracranial treatment positioning, c-spine treatment positioning, and other head and neck treatments.
3. Operational flexibility
Aktina positionPRO was designed on a flexible modular platform with today’s advanced radiation therapy clinic in mind. The heart of the system (the pitch and roll correcting overlay) can be easily indexed to any treatment or simulation couch top with interchangeable head support modules for use with either thermoplastic or vacuum fixation modes. Ergonomic hand grips and a unique thermoplastic shoulder support option provide added treatment flexibility.
4. Patient comfort
Radiation treatment is stressful and can be uncomfortable for patients, which can be further exacerbated by extended immobilization and set up times. Aktina positionPRO is designed for maximum patient comfort while maintaining high positioning accuracy. It is also designed for fast setup and efficiency, which helps minimize periods of immobilization and improves the overall patient experience.
Head and neck radiosurgery treatments present some unique challenges, and effective patient immobilization and positioning are critical for radiation treatment accuracy. Aktina positionPRO provides an accurate, efficient patient positioning solution for head and neck radiation treatments, helping to contribute to better patient outcomes.
08/01/2019Five key advantages Aktina SRS Cones provide when used with Elekta LINACs
The manner in which radiosurgery treatments are administered directly impacts patient outcomes, as well as the duties and tasks of technicians, the time required to set up and deliver treatments, and the myriad costs associated with them. When using Elekta LINACs, Aktina SRS Small Field Circular Collimators, or SRS Cones, provide one of the most precise and cost-effective radiotherapy delivery tools. Here are five key advantages to consider:
Aktina SRS Cones are light-weight, simple, and easy to use. For example, the cone adapter simply snaps onto the Elekta LINAC head without the need for modifications to the collimator face plate. Inter-changeable cones are available over a range of 5 through 40mm field sizes in increments of 1mm to cover the full range of expected treatment diameters: and changing from one size of cone to another can be done in seconds.
Aktina SRS Cones are manufactured to extremely tight tolerances, appropriate to their purpose. SRS cones are made with lead as the attenuating material and feature a rugged stainless steel exterior that protects the softer inner components and ensures a long, accurate life.
The precision cone mounting mechanisms incorporated into SRS Cones is extremely reproducible without any play, eliminating the need for additional adjustments and alignments. This provides a fast, reliable, and reproducible location of the precision cone to help ensure highly accurate treatments. In most cases, the accuracy of treatment using SRS Cones is completely sufficient and does not require the use of specialized, single-purpose SRS systems.
Aktina SRS Cones provide QA functionality with a “fool-proof” design to ensure consistent treatment accuracy, and are barcoded and register with the application software to ensure proper radiation dosage delivery. Additionally, Aktina SRS Cones feature carved channels and grooves that match corresponding channels and grooves carved into the applicator. As a cone is inserted into the applicator, it depresses specific switches to confirm that it is the proper size cone for the programmed dosage. The control software, which is integrated with the Aktina SRS Cones and applicator, compares the installed cone with the programmed plan to confirm that they match before treatment delivery.
Specialized, single-purpose SRS systems can be very costly. Aktina SRS Cones deliver highly accurate treatments at lower cost with built-in quality controls.
Elekta Instrument AB, a world-wide leader in LINAC systems, is a global distributor of Aktina SRS Cones for use in cancer treatments and various other radiation therapies. This further validates the performance, accuracy and cost-efficiency of Aktina SRS Cones.
Radiosurgery is more accurate and effective than ever. The use of Aktina SRS Cones with Elekta LINACs is helping contribute to better patient outcomes. Contact us for more information about SRS Cones and how to make use of them at your treatment facility.
05/21/2019Five Ways to Eliminate Human Error from Radiosurgery Treatments
Radiosurgery today is better in almost every way than it has ever been before. Generations of equipment and procedural improvements are paying dividends now with better treatment plans, more accurate radiation generation and delivery, more precise beam shape and intensities, better patient immobilization, positioning, and comfort, and many more factors. While these advances have inarguably produced better overall outcomes, there is one factor that rather obliviously resists improvement – and must therefore be eliminated by taking action on other factors. That stubborn factor is, of course, human error.
Despite our best intentions, even well-trained human technicians can occasionally find a way to mis-position the patient or select the wrong beam shape. And every time the wrong treatment is administered, you risk harming your patient. Here are five ways to proactively eliminate human error from radiosurgery treatments:
Accurate patient positioning is a critical step in radiotherapy treatments, and treatment of tumors in the head and neck area are particularly sensitive to positioning because of the close proximity of other essential organs and tissues.
Today, high-accuracy head immobilization products are available to meet this positioning challenge and eliminate human error. For example, Aktina offers a family of head immobilization products based on a patented fixation method called PinPoint that uses vacuum technology to match a fitted plate to the patient’s upper palate. This approach offers many advantages, but one of the most important is the sub-millimeter accuracy that can be achieved without requiring any action by the patient while offering a firm, fixed positioning reference for technicians.
Lengthy setup times and difficult hold positions increase the chances of patient movement and procedural errors during SBRT treatments. In the past, bulky and restrictive components were used to immobilize patients, adding undesirable time and complexity to setups.
Today, advanced lateral support systems are available that can cut setup times, increase clinicians’ flexibility, and reduce stress to patients, reducing human errors. Aktina’s Memorial Cradle 2 Lateral Support System, for example, developed in conjunction with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, features a unique modular design that provides active patient support by applying lateral side pressure to increase treatment setup accuracy and reproducibility.
Trained clinicians are not fools, but to eliminate human errors, it always helps to employ equipment with built-in “fool-proof” design features as a double-check. One excellent example of this approach has to do with SRS Cones. In the past, regulators in many states took action to ensure that cones are barcoded and register with the application software to ensure proper radiation dosage delivery. However, even these measures remained vulnerable to human error–once the proper cone is scanned, there was nothing registering whether or not that scanned cone was the same cone that was then attached to the applicator.
Aktina offers an interlocking SRS cone system designed to eliminate this type of human error. Aktina interlocking cones have carved channels and grooves that match corresponding channels and grooves carved into the applicator. As each cone is inserted into the applicator, they depress specific switches to confirm that they are the proper size cone for the programmed dosage. The control software, which has been integrated with the cones and applicator, compares the installed cone with the programmed plan and confirms they match before proceeding.
Adjustable equipment requires periodic calibration to ensure treatment accuracy. Some clinicians, however, are still using calibration processes that depend on human actions, and can therefore vary between operators, or even be performed inaccurately. One example of this is the calibration of active breathing coordination systems, or ABCs. The older method for calibrating an ABC system was to use a physical plunger to simulate patient breathing. With this method, however, the rate of plunger movement, which is important to calibration accuracy, is difficult for technicians to control, leading to calibration inaccuracies and to other human errors.
Today, there is an automated option for calibrating ABC systems – called the Spirocheck Duo calibration system from Aktina – that eliminates this human-induced variation. Like the traditional calibration approach, it uses a plunger to deliver a known volume of air to the ABC, but instead of being manually operated, it is powered so that the rate of the air delivery can also be controlled in a repeatable, accurate manner. As a bonus, the entire calibration and operational check takes less than 5 minutes, so the calibration be performed daily at a minimum, and if desired, as often as before each patient.
At the end of the day, positioning can only be as accurate as your points of reference. And, variations in human perception and positioning judgment can lead to unwanted positioning errors and variability.
Aktina provides the latest LAP laser positioning guides that transfer the position of fixed room reference points into 3D space, and thereby to the LINAC setup and then to the patient. During setup, calibration, and quality assurance phases, laser reference guides project the LINAC isocenter and reference alignment lines, making these references visible and revealing any discrepancies with the phantom or patient positioning. Using these guides, the patient can be repeatedly and accurately positioned in 3D space and aligned in all three axes, reducing the chances of human error negatively affecting the treatment.
Radiosurgery today is better in almost every way than it has ever been before. You can help your well-trained human technicians make sure that every treatment is as accurate as it can be by taking action to eliminate human errors in patient positioning, equipment calibration, and treatment setup.
Aktina is proud to provide the latest, most advanced offerings in support of radiotherapy treatment – creating a win-win situation for treatment providers, patients, and better outcomes. Contact us for more information about how we can improve your radiation treatment workflows.
05/15/2019Increasing Radiotherapy Patient Value with Improved Calibration and Immobilization Solutions
When examining radiation treatment regimens for patients, how can we define increasing value? For many parts of our daily lives, value is difficult to define – because value itself is at least in part defined by each consumer, and thus value assessments for any particular item or service vary from person to person. Indeed, economists often simply say that something is valued, or worth, whatever someone is willing to pay for it. For radiation treatments, we believe we can go further to show how treatment accuracy and improved immobilization methods will positively impact the value for patients.
For example, we can say that because the very purpose of a prescribed radiation treatment is to battle a disease or condition, the value of that treatment is directly linked to the accurate delivery of that prescribed treatment. Thus, all else being equal, a more accurate delivery of the prescribed treatment delivers more value to a patient than would an inaccurate delivery.
And, if the accuracy of the treatment regimen is held constant, at least two other factors would affect the treatment value for patients – the time required for that treatment, and the comfort of the patient during treatment. In both these cases, we propose that an improvement in either of these factors – that is, a time reduction or an improvement in comfort – would be valued by the patient and thereby increase the overall value of that treatment. In reality, these two factors are not completely independent, as longer setup and treatment times can also negatively patient comfort.
Given these conditions, how can calibration and improved immobilization affect these factors? In the first factor, treatment regimen accuracy, improvements in positioning accuracy or the accuracy of the radiation delivery itself would add to patient value. In a similar way, any decrease in patient positioning and treatment times or increase in patient comfort would also add to patient value.
Considering all these factors, it becomes clear that calibration could be the most important activity that affects multiple patient value factors. Calibration benefits a wide range of treatment-related elements, including:
Aktina offers a wide range of equipment calibration tools and supporting devices, including phantoms, laser positioning systems, and spirometers. The use of these tools to calibrate radiation treatment equipment will result in more accurate treatment delivery, and thus higher value for patients.
In addition, some of these tools are automated in such a way as to reduce the chances of human error while also reducing the time required for calibration. This is a win-win situation that benefits both patients and treatment providers in multiple ways as described above. A good example of this is the Spirocheck Duo calibration system that provides automated calibration for ABC systems. Like the traditional calibration approach, it uses a plunger to deliver a known volume of air to the ABC, but instead of being manually operated, it is powered so that the rate of the air delivery can also be controlled in a repeatable, accurate manner. As a bonus, the entire calibration and operational check takes less than 5 minutes, so the calibration be performed daily at a minimum, and if desired, as often as before each patient while saving considerable technician time.
Another area that benefits from improved products and procedures is patient immobilization. There have been recent advancements in abdominal, body and cranial radiosurgery immobilization techniques that are non-invasive, help ensure treatment accuracy, and provide a higher degree of patient comfort – a win-win-win situation. For example, Aktina took a unique approach to SBRT immobilization with the introduction of the Memorial Cradle 2 Lateral Support System, developed in conjunction with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The new system features a unique method for immobilization that increases accuracy and reproducibility while taking less time and reducing patient stress. Improved immobilization products and procedures are also available for cranial radiosurgery and abdominal radiotherapy, extending these value benefits to a broad range of patients.
Contact Aktina Medical to learn more about how you can increase your treatment value for patients with improved calibration and patient immobilization solutions.
11/20/2018Automated Calibration Helps Ensure Accuracy
The Need for Accuracy
In recent years, radiotherapy treatments have become more targeted and precise when the disease presentation allows it. Early detection has been proven to lead to better outcomes, but affected areas in early stages of a cancer’s development are typically smaller in size, which presents a new set of treatment challenges, and creates a need for high imaging, positioning, and treatment equipment accuracy.
Need for Calibration
What is the best way to ensure the necessary accuracy? The answer is straightforward and clear: The best way to ensure equipment accuracy is to employ a consistent calibration regimen.
Note that for any particular measurement, there are often multiple calibration schemes available, with these schemes differing in approach, accuracy, cost, and relevance. For all calibration approaches, it is important that when any choice of method is made, the user needs to know all the factors that affect the calibration process to a significant extent and make sure they are taken into account.
Let’s consider how these ideas apply to a radiotherapy-specific example; the calibration of an Active Breathing Coordinator system.
The Active Breathing Coordinator system (or, ABC) is designed to help patients hold their breath in a predictable way. This is particularly valuable for treatment of tumors in the abdomen that can move during breathing.
One key to successful use of this system is for the patient to inhale the same measured volume of air before each breath hold. The ABC is designed to measure the volume of incoming air using a small, lightweight sensor that minimizes the disruption of normal patient breathing, and for the system to work, this sensor must measure accurately and consistently during successive treatments. Thus, the system is designed to be calibrated, with adjustments to ensure that the measured volume of air is consistent from day to day, week to week, and even when the sensor might be replaced between treatment sessions.
The previous standard method for calibrating the system was to use a physical plunger of known capacity to simulate patient breathing. With this method, the volume of the plunger can be accurately known, but other factors that are important to calibration accuracy are difficult for technicians to control. In particular, the rate of the breathing simulation flow should ideally match a typical patient to check that the spirometry will be accurate. If the rate of the airflow cannot be controlled accurately and consistently by different technicians, or by the same technician over days and weeks, then the accuracy of the ABC calibration will suffer.
Automated Calibration Improves Repeatability and Accuracy
Automating the calibration process, if possible, is one way to reduce the amount of human-induced variation. Today, there is an automated option for calibrating ABC systems – called the Spirocheck Duo calibration system from Aktina. Like the traditional calibration approach, it uses a plunger to deliver a known volume of air to the ABC, but instead of being manually operated, it is powered so that the rate of the air delivery can also be controlled in a repeatable, accurate manner. In this way, the Spirocheck Duo controls both of the important calibration factors rather than just one of them.
As an additional benefit of the automated system, it is designed to automatically check both the spirometry of the ABC system and the operation of balloon valve that is used for stopping the volume flow at the start of a breath-hold.
This is a great example of the benefits of a well-designed automated system – a combination of high accuracy, low cost for each test, and a short time required to execute the procedure. The entire calibration and operational check takes less than 5 minutes, and the system captures the results for auditing purposes. Because the automated process is so quick and easy, the calibration can be performed daily at a minimum, and if desired, as often as before each patient.
To learn more about how employing an automated calibration system will improve the accuracy of your ABC system and can lead to better outcomes, please contact us today!