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What is a Linear Accelerator and What Does it Do?

Linear accelerators, LINAC, are used in the treatment of cancer.  High energy x-rays (electrons) are shaped to conform to the size and shape of the patient’s tumor and delivered using a LINAC.   The radiation, simply put, is used to destroy cancerous cells.  They are delivered in the shape of the tumor to hopefully eliminate damage to the healthy tissues surrounding the cancerous tumor.  A LINAC offers several built-in features, depending on the model, that make sure that the prescribed dose of radiation is delivered.

If radiation has been scheduled and will be delivered using a linear accelerator your radiation oncologist will work in conjunction with both a radiation dosimetrist and medical physicist to create a treatment plan that is uniquely designed for you.  Your physician will review your treatment plan with you before it begins and put quality assurance procedures in place to be certain that all parties involved are on the same page and that your treatment will be delivered in the exact same manner.

What is linear accelerator equipment used for?

LINAC, which is short for linear accelerator, is a large-scale piece of medical equipment used in external beam radiation treatment.  Radiation is a treatment option that is given to patients that have been diagnosed with cancer.  Linear accelerators are used to treat a variety of cancers throughout the body.  The LINAC distributes high-energy x-rays (electrons) directly on to the cancerous tumor.  The treatment is deployed in a manner that allows the healthy tissues to receive less of a direct hit than the tumor to help prevent damage.  Several techniques are used when delivering radiation from LINAC systems including:

  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
  • Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT)
  • Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)
  • Stereotactic Body Radio Therapy (SBRT)

How does a LINAC work?

Microwave technology is used in LINAC to speed up electrons within the wave guide (a part inside the linear accelerator).  It then lets the sped-up electrons to strike a dense metal target to produce the high-energy x-ray that is delivered to the cancerous tumor.  Before the radiation (high-energy x-ray beams) are delivered they are shaped into custom beams that match up with the patient’s unique tumor.

Radiation beams are manipulated into the shape of the tumor as they exit the LINAC by a multi-leaf collimator.  The multi-leaf collimator is uniquely designed to each patient and is integrated into the head of the LINAC.  Patients are required to lie completely motionless on a treatment couch.  In order to make sure that the patient is in the correct position laser are used as guides.  The couch that patients are lying on can be manipulated about to make sure the laser beams are in the correct location.  radiation beams are directed out of the LINAC through the gantry.  The gantry revolves around the patient on the couch.  Radiation can literally be delivered from any number of angles simply by rotating the gantry on the LINAC and moving the couch that the patient is lying on.

Who runs the LINAC?

Radiation therapy is prescribed by a patient’s radiation oncologist.  They are the individual in charge of making sure you receive the appropriate dosage of radiation.  Together a medical physicist and dosimetrist decide how the prescribed dose of radiation will be delivered and how long the process will take.  Finally, a radiation therapist will operate the LINAC to give the patient the prescribed dose of radiation treatment.

How is the patient’s safety guaranteed?

The safety of the patient and the radiation therapist are of utmost importance and therefore secured in several ways throughout treatment.   Before treatment is carried out a unique plan is created.  This strategy is evaluated and approved through a few specialists working together including your radiation oncologist, radiation dosimetrist, and medical physicist.  The proposal is double, and triple checked before treatment can be delivered and quality-assurance procedures are done to make sure that the therapy is delivered according to the plan.

LINAC safety is also another important factor in quality assurance.  Linear accelerators have several built-in features that work to ensure a proper dose of radiation is given.  Daily equipment checks are performed on linear accelerators.  Radiation therapists check to ensure radiation intensity is uniform throughout the beam.  Monthly checks are performed by medical physicists monthly and annually on linear accelerators. There are also several internal checks within the LINAC that don’t let the machine run unless all the prescribed treatment requirements are in place.

Radiation therapists continue to observe the patient during treatment using closed-circuit TV monitors.  A microphone is in place within the treatment room to allow patients and therapists to speak during treatment.  Imaging tools are regularly examined to be sure that beam position is the same as it was in the original plan.

The LINAC operator is crucial as well.  Linear accelerator equipment sits within a room that consists of lead and concrete walls.  This prevents radiation beams from exiting the treatment room.  LINAC systems only release radiation when it is turned on so the accidental risk of exposure to radiation is low.

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale.  More information can be found online at https://www.acceletronics.com/.

Planning for and Purchasing a Linear Accelerator

A lot of different aspects go into the purchasing procedure of equipment used throughout medical facilities, health clinics, and hospitals.  Unlike other business, hospitals are not only looking for equipment that is affordable, they are searching for equipment that provides clients with effective treatment, precise results, and quality care.  In order to do so, the purchasing team of the facility must work in conjunction with physicians and critical care staff to plan for new equipment purchases.

Planning & Understanding Your Clinical Goals

Critical personnel must understand the clinical goals of the clients.  Right from the start it is important that all facility members involved recognize the types of patients that will be treated, and the technology needed to deliver top notch radiation therapy to them.  Is important that you are fully automated and digital?  Does the facility need to consider EPID, Electronic Portal Imaging Device?  Will images of tumors be taken on a daily or less frequently?  If you will be then an IGRT solution must be selected.  It is also important to know how the tumor will be defined for treatment.  Are you going to need a multi-leaf collimator with leaves (MLC)?  Answering these questions will help your facility narrow down your exact need and the piece of equipment that will fill these needs.

Another crucial element in planning for a new piece of equipment, especially one as large as a linear accelerator, CT scanner, or other radiotherapy equipment is the location in which it will be installed.  In new construction you will have to consider the machines that are to be places now as well as technology that will be used in the future.  It will be crucial that the building has room for expansion for further equipment purchases as well as the technology appropriate for today’s need.  When renovating an existing space within the facility it is important to consider all of the constraints present such as shielding.

Having an established timetable for any project, especially the installation of LINAC systems, is the only way to successfully manage a successful health care facility when the normal flow could be disrupted.  Of course, it also helps prevent common sense issues such as having a space that is ready for equipment when it is delivered to be installed, set up, programmed, and ready for hands on training.  What good is a piece of equipment it is sitting in the hallway unable to be used?  It is important for facilities and personnel to establish a timetable for each milestone along the way, including a completion date.  There are many moving elements, including a number of experts, when installing a large scaled piece of equipment.  To prevent IT specialists from arriving before the equipment is ready for them to complete software installation and such, a timeline is necessary.

Once a clinical goal and time table have been set, now comes the time to create a budget for the acquisition of your new equipment.  Once a budget is set you will know if you should look into new, refurbished, or used equipment.  Quality refurbished linear accelerators and reconditioned CT scanners are ideal when working within a budget.  Prices vary for a number of reasons including: the age of the equipment, features, technology, and manufacturer.  When budgeting for large scaled equipment make sure to allocate for additional products and services that will be needed to use them successfully.  Radiation therapy includes large scaled equipment such as linear accelerators but also patient positioning devices and the such.  It is just as important to budget for the extras as it is the initial piece of equipment.

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale.  More information can be found online at https://www.acceletronics.com/.

Predictive Maintenance: A Strong Strategy for The Longevity of LINAC Systems

If you are responsible for the operation of the linear accelerator equipment at your facility than you already know that to keep the machine running as accurately as possible it has to be maintained properly. Whether you are talking about some scheduled outage so that you can run all the necessary tests, do diagnostic and replace parts that have shown that they are in need of replacement before they go out.

 

Establishing a good Predictive Maintenance Schedule

 

One of the best ways to ensure that your Linear Accelerator equipment will be ready to go if it is necessary to be used for treating a patient. One of the ways to ensure that your equipment is running properly is to be sure that all the linear accelerator components are running correctly. Having a good maintenance schedule requires you to have linear accelerator replacements parts to be able to complete certain types of maintenance.

 

Benefits of Predictive Maintenance

 

Dramatically reduce equipment downtime – By being able to identify potential problems before they rise to the level of affecting the proper operation of the linear accelerator equipment. This makes it highly likely that your machine will be available when the need arises for the machine. This also means that you can make plans to have specific linear accelerator replacements parts on hand when they would be needed to be replaced.

 

Diagnostic equipment is considerably cheaper – The latest technology being used in today’s diagnostic equipment and the software that they use to run are cheaper to acquire and this makes them considerably cheaper to use.  When you have the right equipment to do the job, you are far more likely to be able to keep your equipment running properly.

 

It can be used effectively for any size company – The linear accelerator equipment typically uses sensors that make it possible to check the proper operation of the machine. However, this does not offer real-time data, so it is not the most effective method. This is where the diagnostic equipment used in predictive maintenance is far more effective. This makes it possible for more companies to be able to use predictive maintenance, even if they are a smaller size company.

 

Real-time data makes catching potential problems much more likely – When it comes to detecting potential issues having real-time data is the best way to. This is one of biggest advantages to having the diagnostic equipment in the hands of your maintenance personnel to be able to schedule them to proactively check all the components of the machine to ensure that they are working properly.

 

It is the most proactive form of equipment maintenance – There are three distinct forms of equipment maintenance that a company can use to keep its equipment running and reducing downtime. The three types of maintenance are reactive, preventative and proactive maintenance. Each one has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to which one is the better however when patient care is the most important factor, as it in the treatment of cancer, predictive maintenance allows planned downtime instead of emergent care.

 

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale.  More information can be found online at https://www.acceletronics.com/.

 

Preventative LINAC Maintenance: Unscheduled Repairs Impact Treatment

Radiotherapy engineers conduct preventative maintenance and repairs on equipment used for radiotherapy. Predictive and preventative maintenance of the complex equipment which includes linear accelerators, teletherapy systems, radiotherapy simulators, digital x-ray systems, among many more.

Quality management within a radiation therapy clinic involves maintaining, servicing and supporting linear accelerators. When a linear accelerator breaks down, the physician in charge or other clinic employees usually inform the support team who send engineers out to the location to do the repair. Unscheduled servicing on linear accelerators can have a significant impact on treatment. Patients going through radiation therapy should get the treatment at specific times. When linear accelerators malfunction, it means the patients must be moved to other centers for treatment or have their treatment rescheduled. As a clinic, this can have a negative impact on your business and it is, therefore, important to have the problem resolved as fast as possible.

To minimize the impact of downtown due to equipment failure maintenance must be kept up to date.  To decrease the impact of equipment failure we suggest:

  1. Reducing the processes involved in reporting the issue to the support engineers. Sometimes the process involved in reporting issues to the support engineers and have them dispatch people to five the machines can be too lengthy. The longer it takes to send a team over, the longer it will take before patients can receive treatment.
  2. When there are repetition and redundancies in reporting the incident, it takes the support engineers a long time to resolve the issue. Time is of the essence when making unscheduled repairs on linear accelerators.
  3. Cancer patients going through radiation therapy have compromised immunities because of the illness and the radiation treatment. If a Linear accelerator breaks down, the clinic might have to take patients to another facility for treatment. Moving patients who have a weakened immune system increases the risk of infection which could be detrimental to the patient’s health.
  4. Linear accelerators are critical for administering radiation therapy to cancer patients. When a linear accelerator needs to be fixed, it means patients who were scheduled to use that machine will not get their scheduled treatments and even if they do so from another center they will still be inconvenienced.

Ensuring cancer patients have access to treatment is extremely imperative. Linear accelerator support engineers cannot prevent breakdowns entirely, but rapid repair of the machines goes a long way in minimizing the impact on patients’ treatment.

Acceletronics is an independent service company dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models. Learn more about Acceletronics and their selection of new and refurbished linear accelerators and CT scanners today at http://www.acceletronics.com.  To contact one of our LINAC experts call 610.524.3300.

Linear Accelerators Deliver Accuracy in Patient Care

A linear accelerator is one of the best tools to use for eradicating tumors in a cancer patient. In the past, one of the problems with cancer treatment was that healthy normal cells were killed too. But with a LINAC, linear accelerator, this machine delivers elevated electrons or energy x-rays that conform to the tumor’s form. It focuses on destroying cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissues.

 

LINAC systems also contain numerous incorporated measures of protection that will ensure that they only deliver the most accurate dosage to patients. Therefore, servicing linear accelerators is an extremely valuable part of the entire process, as well as requiring constant checking by a medical physicist to ensure that they continue working properly.

Before a Procedure Begins

A patient who has been scheduled for radiation therapy with a LINAC will undergo a long and stringent process to ensure accuracy and safety. This begins with an appointment with the radiation oncologist. The oncologist will then collaborate with the radiation dosimetrist and a medical physicist to develop the best treatment plan. Before treatment proceeds, the patient’s own doctor will review and double check this plan before it can begin.

 

There will also be quality assurance procedures put in place to ensure that the patient remains safe during the procedure. These procedures are also put in place so that if multiple treatments are required, that the patient will receive each one in the exact same manner.

 

A LINAC is most frequently used for external radiation beam treatment for patients with cancer. Linear accelerators treat all parts and organs of the body and the organs that may have cancer. The machine delivers high-energy x-rays or electrons to the center of the patient’s tumor. It destroys the cancer cells while sparing surrounding tissue.

How a LINAC Works

The LINAC uses a microwave technology that is like radar technology. It accelerates electrons so that they collide with a heavy metal target that produces high energy x-rays. These are shaped to conform to the exact shape of the patient’s tumor.

 

The patient lies on a movable couch during treatment. The patient must be in the right position for the most effective treatment. The couch can be moved up, down, left, right, and left in and out. The beam is directed from a gantry which is rotated around the patient.

 

There are a variety of experts who operate this equipment. It’s important that the LINAC be regularly serviced. There are qualified businesses who perform regular servicing of linear accelerators.

Repairs May Be Needed On LINAC Systems

In some instances, the LINAC may need to be repaired. The machine will deliver errors and reports and not turn on if it’s not safe. This is when clinics and hospitals need to call in technicians for repairing LINAC systems. It can be difficult to determine what has gone wrong, as the LINAC system is complex. It may simply need servicing, or it may need certain parts replaced.

 

If your facility’s linear accelerator is due for servicing, please contact us today so that your facility can continue to delivery accuracy in patient care.

 

Acceletronics is an independent service company dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models. Learn more about Acceletronics and their selection of new and refurbished linear accelerators and CT scanners today at http://www.acceletronics.com.  To contact one of our LINAC experts call 610.524.3300.

What You Should Know When Repairing LINAC Systems

linear accelerator service engineer is responsible for the repair, testing, and calibration of imaging and clinical equipment, devices, instruments, and systems. In addition to the inspection and installation of LINAC systems, it is an accelerator service engineer’s role to repair defective medical equipment and provide scheduled maintenance of specialized equipment in accordance with departmental and manufacturer protocols and specifications on a routine basis. Consider the following points when servicing or repairing LINAC systems:

  1. Know the parts of a LINAC system

Even though third generation LINACS are now computerized and have improved beam modifying systems, you still need to be conversant with some if not all the main units of a LINAC, including the major components that are housed in a modular cabinet. Do you know what a klystron or magnetron is, or a wave guide, a circulator, an electron gun, including the water systems the LINAC is composed of and much more?

  1. Diagnose and correct system and equipment malfunctions

As a linear accelerator service engineer, you should develop accuracy in judgment, planning, technique, and confidence in dealing with systems emergencies and malfunctions when servicing linear accelerators. You must exhibit knowledge of the various elements of a LINAC system, analyze the situation and take the appropriate action so that your clients can have more confidence and trust in your work.

  1. Maintain accurate records of work performed

Whether maintenance is scheduled or unscheduled, it’s important to keep a comprehensive record to help you keep track of all the maintenance work. Records also enable you to arrange a time to provide maintenance on the machine when needed, at the same time it ensures that the LINAC system that you have already repaired is safe to work with and you can prove it with your records if necessitated.

The records should also show the customer’s details, the detail of the complaint, when you arrived at the job site and the evidence documenting that the LINAC system was checked. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

  1. Use quality OEM replacement parts

Linear accelerator parts and accessories are met with strict guidelines throughout the reconditioning process. In the event you are called to repair LINAC Systems, and you must replace an important LINAC part, ensure that the accelerator parts meet and exceed the OEM specifications, but always talk to the client to make sure that they are willing to meet the costs.

  1. Linear accelerator removal and disposal

A LINAC is a very heavy medical equipment and challenging to remove. The removal and disposal of medical equipment of either radiation, oncology or imaging equipment is an important skill set for all equipment engineers who are required by law to comply with state regulations, for liability and safety reasons.

Work with experienced riggers who have the appropriate equipment to remove a linear accelerator and with a knowledge of pulling the concrete around the base frame of a LINAC system without damaging it because most LINACs can be recycled and reused.

Acceletronics is an independent service company dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models. Learn more about Acceletronics and their selection of new and refurbished linear accelerators and CT scanners today at http://www.acceletronics.com.  To contact one of our LINAC experts call 610.524.3300.

 

Maintaining Radiation Oncology Equipment

Biomedical equipment technicians have the arduous job of repairing medical equipment used in hospitals and various health practitioner’s office. These machines are quite complex and carry out work that the normal human being can’t such as processing x-rays into visible images or magnifying test samples thousands of times, therefore any glitch, malfunction, or downtime is unacceptable because it can affect the entire medical procedure, which in all cases, is life-saving.

Technical Skills Involved With LINAC Servicing

Servicing LINAC systems takes a certain level of technical skills and the use of both mechanical skills and software know-how to fix the delicate parts of a linear accelerator. A LINAC uses microwave technology to create high energy electron beams or X-rays known as Photons beams. When these high-energy photons are created they are then directed to a patient’s tumor and are shaped as they exit the LINAC to conform to the tumor

Servicing linear accelerators is time-consuming, nonetheless, they can be successfully operated, maintained and repaired, but only when done by people with a background experience in capacity building, installing, commissioning, calibrating, servicing and repairing linear accelerators. Components of a LINAC are highly sensitive suffice it to say, costly. Take, for example; the drive stand comprises of the klystron, which is also used in high energy physics, provides medical linacs with the source of microwave power to accelerate the electrons by amplifying introduced radio frequency electromagnetic waves. The job of biomedical equipment technicians is to not only get it right the first time but also to ensure that they check their work for any anomalies to alleviate future disruptions.

Components Of An Accelerator

Other components that a technician must check when servicing linear accelerators are the RF waveguide, the circulator, which connects the klystron and the RF waveguide, and the cooling water system, all, which are vital components of the drive stand that needs to work at optimal capacity. Additionally, the modular cabinet of the LINAC systems, which is located in the treatment room, contains three subcomponents that also need to work symbiotically. They are:

  • The power distribution system
  • The fan control that cools the power distribution system
  • The auxiliary power distribution system which contains off button that shuts down the power to the LINAC in case of an emergency

The water cooling system that is located in the drive stand and gantry cannot be allowed to fail at any moment because not only does it provide thermal stability to the whole LINAC system, but it also allows all the components in the gantry and drive stand to operate at a constant temperature.

Equally so, the monitor ionizing chambers used to screen field symmetry, integrated dose and dose range, as well as the multi-leaf collimators (MLCs) that are used to create a block that spares normal tissue and direct the radiation dose to the tumor, are two important elements in the treatment delivery of radiotherapy.

Checked and Maintained For Accuracy

They, therefore, must be checked when servicing linear accelerators to ensure that there are accurate dosimetry, mechanical precision, and imaging during RT treatment.

Acceletronics is an independent service company dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models. Learn more about Acceletronics and their selection of new and refurbished linear accelerators and CT scanners today at http://www.acceletronics.com.  To contact one of our LINAC experts call 610.524.3300.