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05/21/2019
Five 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:

  1. High accuracy positioning based on fixed patient geometry

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.

Click here to see more about the Aktina PinPoint solution.

  1. Help patients remain still with advanced lateral support

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.

Click here to see more about the Aktina Memorial Cradle 2 Lateral Support System.

  1. Make use of “fool-proof” equipment where possible

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.

Click here to see more about the Aktina Interlocking Cone System.

  1. Automate the calibration process

Spirocheck DuoAdjustable 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.

Click here to see more about the Aktina Spirocheck Duo calibration system.

  1. Use the latest laser positioning technology

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.

Click here to see more about the LAP Room Laser Systems from Aktina.

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.

 
05/15/2019
Increasing 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:

  • initial patient positioning for imaging
  • the repeatability of patient positioning for treatments
  • the time required for accurate positioning
  • the repeatability of breath holding for abdominal treatments
  • the correct selection and installation of beam-forming cones
  • the correct delivery of radiation intensity
  • and more

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.

Spirocheck DuoIn 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.

 
05/13/2019
The Role of Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH) for Reducing Heart Dose during left-Sided Breast Radiotherapy

Most Left-breast cancer women treated by adjuvant radiotherapy after undergo primary surgery, as there are some microscopic tumor might remain after surgery which could lead to recurrence or metastases (or both) if not treated. Many studies show that the patients treated with radiotherapy for left-sided breast cancer suffer from cardiac complications and mortality in compared to due to the increase of cardiac absorbed dose for the left-sided breast, the cardiac complications increase.Studies have shown that with traditional tangential radiation therapy for breast or chest wall the whole heart dose can vary from 1.4-4.4 Gy and the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery (LADCA) dose can vary between 2.4-21.2 Gy for left side treatments.

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11/20/2018
Automated 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. Spirocheck Duo

Radiotherapy Example

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!

 
11/06/2018
Aktina Showcased Latest Advancements for Cancer Treatment Accuracy and Patient Immobilization at ASTRO 2018

Congers, NY (November 6, 2018) – Aktina Medical, the industry’s primary source for radiation oncology needs, leveraged its participation at the ASTRO show’s 60th Annual Meeting by showcasing the company’s latest advancements for improved radiosurgery accuracy, and patient immobilization and comfort. Featured Aktina solutions on display at ASTRO 2018 included its SenoView prone breast system, SpiroCheck Duo® quality assurance system; Electronically Interlocking Small Field Circular Cones, and the Memorial Cradle 2 immobilization system for body radiosurgery.

“Our participation in ASTRO 2018 was rewarded as our solutions for improved radiosurgery accuracy, and patient immobilization and comfort were extremely well received by attendees,” said Nicholas G. Zacharopulos, COO, Aktina Medical. “Aktina was established years ago from within the radiosurgery community to innovate practical and cost-effective solutions for longstanding challenges faced by radiosurgery providers. And we have sustained this approach in developing new and innovative solutions to this day, as we will moving forward.”

Aktina Medical showcased the following solutions at ASTRO 2018: 

The Aktina SenoView prone breast system solves many of the current problems with standard prone breast boards. The unique patented design orients the patient in a semi-decubitus position resting on an adjustable sternal bridge, allowing the treatment field edges to be viewed and marked for both the medial and lateral fields. SenoView delivers a significant advantage over standard prone breast boards, where the medical field cannot be visualized on the patient’s skin for field edge marking and verification.

SpiroCheck Duo® quality assurance system for Active Breathing Coordinator (ABC) is accurate to within 1.25%, ensuring precise readings and performance in critical radiotherapy planning and treatment. A Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) compliant device, SpiroCheck Duo completes a full calibration of the ABC’s spirometry and balloon valve in less than two minutes to help minimize downtime.

Aktina’s Electronically Interlocking Small Field Circular Cones ensure accurate radiation dosage by eliminating human error. The patented system of lead-based interlocking cones with stainless steel sleeves to prevent lead contact feature carved channels and grooves that match corresponding channels and grooves carved into the applicator. As each cone is inserted into the applicator, they depress (or don’t depress) specific switches and 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. The system also comes with a quality assurance cone that depresses every switch and tests them to assure functionality, ensuring that any installed cones will be recognized and confirmed accurately.

Also displayed at ASTRO 2018 was Aktina’s Memorial Cradle 2 immobilization system for body radiosurgery, which provides a unique method for patient immobilization. Originally co-developed between Aktina Medical and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the system utilizes side pressure on the patient to achieve superior immobilization and patient comfort. This unique modular approach allows for excellent flexibility in SBRT positioning with direct index to table crossbar and paddle sets.

 
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