Healing the UW’s Cyclotron

The service and engineering staff here at Core enjoy the challenge of working with the unusual custom configurations we encounter. Earlier this year, for instance, we were asked by the University of Washington’s Clinical Engineering Department to assist in resolving some issues they were having with the X-ray generator and tube used in conjunction with their Scanditronix MC50 Clinical Cyclotron.

As the core of one of only two fast neutron radiotherapy facilities in the world, the UW Medical Center’s Cyclotron is not just any piece of medical equipment.

The Cyclotron is used in the treatment of certain types of cancer, especially head and neck solid tumors. It works by accelerating hydrogen ions to produce a proton beam. This beam is focused and guided down the beam path where it can be directed to the facility’s radionuclide production and research stations, as well as two separate patient therapy rooms.

The proton beam is converted into a fast neutron beam inside the therapy gantry, which is rotated around the patient to concentrate the effects of the neutrons to the desired area and limit the effects in the surrounding tissue.

There is obviously no room for error when it comes to targeting the powerful beam through the use of radiographic images to confirm final positioning. When it became clear that the University’s 30-year-old X-ray generator was not working correctly, it was time to take action.

The Core Care Service team identified the issues with the X-ray unit and developed a plan to repair it. However, in discussing the options with the UW clinical engineering team, it was decided that replacing the aging X-ray system would improve reliability and decrease down time in the future.

Our experience using the EMD Epsilon Generators in ERCP, EP and Cardiac Labs has shown us that they offer the customizable configuration, compatibility and reliability UW requires. This, in addition to its ability to handle fairly long high voltage cable lengths, led the Core team to recommend the 65Kw Epsilon generator. An early December installation was scheduled to ensure minimal impact on UW patients.

We greatly value the level of trust and mutual respect we’ve achieved with the UW and other clinical engineering teams that have allowed us to deliver creative, value-added solutions that help our Northwest clients maximize their investment in critical systems like the Cyclotron.

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