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    NOVEMBER 3, 2005
 
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Radiation therapy puts TUH on cutting edge

gammaknife
Photo credit: Richard Quindry
A linear accelerator hums to life in the relaxed confines of the Radiation Oncology department in Temple University Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center. With the recent delivery of new equipment, Temple is one of only a handful of hospitals in the world with the latest in radiosurgical technology.

Two stories below ground in Temple University Hospital’s new Ambulatory Care Center rests several dozen tons of heavy machinery with the sole purpose of speeding up tiny subatomic particles.

The machines hum to life using the energy emanating from a single, round ball of rare metal. It’s called stereotactic radiosurgery, or radiation therapy.

Now, Temple University Health System has taken a giant leap forward in its ability to harness this power and treat patients in this region.

With a more than $10 million investment in technology and a brand new building, the hospital now offers the most advanced treatment for cancerous tumors of the brain and body in the world. Period.

Over the past several months, Temple University Hospital has unveiled three new linear accelerators; a computed tomography, or CT, simulator designed for high-precision, laser-guided radiation therapy treatment planning; and now offers for the first time the state-of-the-art option of Gamma Knife surgery.

The Elekta Leksell Gamma Knife 4C — only 15 of them exist in the nation — is recognized worldwide as the preferred, most technologically advanced way to treat brain tumors and brain dysfunction.

Using CT, magnetic resonance and positron emission tomography scans and angiography, the knife allows doctors to perform brain surgery without a single incision. Advanced imaging techniques locate the target. Cobalt-60 creates more than 201 beams of radiation that intersect, forming a single, high-dose focus of radiation. Irradiating deep inside the brain, the knife uses radiation like a pain-free scalpel.

Most patients go home the same day or spend just one night in the hospital. More than 300,000 patients have been treated using Gamma Knife surgery.

But what separates TUH from the pack is the addition of Elekta’s new Synergy “S” treatment machine, a system so advanced there there are only a handful in the world. Though less recognizable than the Gamma Knife, the new Synergy “S” is a souped-up linear accelerator with a built in CT scan for real-time image guidance and high-resolution intensity-modulated radiation therapy. Put simply, it means the accuracy and power of a Gamma Knife, but for the rest of the body.

gamma2
Photo credit: Richard Quindry
The latest version of the Elekta Leksel Gamma Knife, the 4C, is capable of integrating images from CAT Scan, MRI an angiography to provide the most accurate treatment. There are currently only 15 in the United States.

“These tools allow us to provide image-guided radiation therapy, delivered with pinpoint accuracy anywhere in the body,” said Curtis Miyamoto, chair of radiation oncology.

“We are now able to see the actual tumor during the treatment. With this level of precision, targeted cells are destroyed and healthy tissue is spared large-volume exposure to radiation.

In the future, all patients will be treated the way TUH is able to treat its patients today.”

Miyamoto and Christopher Loftus, chair of neurosurgery at Temple University Hospital and professor and chair of neurosurgery at the School of Medicine, are treating patients with these new tools in a comfortable suite located in the sub-basement of the Health System’s new Ambulatory Care Center.

A quiet, respectful environment with a combination of intracranial and extracranial treatment tools shared by no other institution in the region, it’s why TUH has been named one of Elekta’s 10 Centers of Excellence in the world.

- By Jordan Reese

 

 


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