HDR brachytherapy involves using needles or catheters to place a radiation source directly within the tumor. These needles are positioned within the tumor using images, treatment planning software, and a computer-controlled device called an afterloader. To maximize accuracy, the needles generally remain in position until all treatment sessions are completed.
Dr Amit Bahl, senior oncologist at Bristol Oncology Centre, said, “When we first introduced brachytherapy treatments we used the standard procedure of delivering the first treatment on the first day and the second treatment a day later. This meant the patient would have to spend the night in hospital with the needles in place. By doing it on a single day, it is beneficial for patient comfort, it enables us to treat more patients and it is helping the NHS by freeing up bed space.
“As well as making it much more comfortable for the patient, there is less chance for needle motion and it reduces the potential for the prostate becoming swollen, as tends to happen 24 hours after the needles have been inserted.”
The innovative procedure at Bristol using Varian’s GammaMed® HDR afterloader and BrachyVision™ planning software has been rewarded by being shortlisted for a prestigious Department of Health AHPS (Associated Health Professionals and Scientists) Award. A team from the centre attended a short-listing ceremony in London in early January and they will discover whether they have won the Best Team award on February 27th.
Bristol Oncology Centre, which serves 2.4 million people in the Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire region, has been treating clinically using a Varian GammaMed afterloader since 2005. The device is used in combination with BrachyVision treatment planning software, which enables clinicians to plan treatments by combining and using MRI, CT and 3-D scans for the best possible images of the tumor and surrounding organs.
Picture: Varian Medical Systems