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Linear Accelerator (LINAC) – healthcare applications

A linear accelerator (LINAC) customizes high energy x-rays or electrons to conform to a tumor’s shape and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissue. It features several built-in safety measures to ensure that it will not deliver a higher dose than prescribed and is routinely checked by a medical physicist to ensure it is working properly. When doing radiation therapy using a LINAC, the oncologist will collaborate with a dosimetrist and medical physicist to develop a treatment plan.

A linear accelerator (LINAC) is the device most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer. The linear accelerator is used to treat all parts/organs of the body. It delivers high-energy x-rays or electrons to the region of the patient’s tumor. These treatments can be designed in such a way that they destroy the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue. The LINAC is used to treat all body sites, using conventional techniques, Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT), Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Stereotactic Body Radio Therapy (SBRT).

The linear accelerator uses microwave technology (similar to that used for radar) to accelerate electrons in a part of the accelerator called the “wave guide,” then allows these electrons to collide with a heavy metal target to produce high-energy x-rays. These high energy x-rays are shaped as they exit the machine to conform to the shape of the patient’s tumor and the customized beam is directed to the patient’s tumor. The beam is usually shaped by a multi-leaf collimator that is incorporated into the head of the machine.

The patient lies on a moveable treatment couch and lasers are used to make sure the patient is in the proper position. The treatment couch can move in many directions including up, down, right, left, in and out. The beam comes out of a part of the accelerator called a gantry, which can be rotated around the patient. Radiation can be delivered to the tumor from any angle by rotating the gantry and moving the treatment couch.

Gage Consulting Engineers offers design expertise for LINAC applications, as part of their healthcare equipment / facility design focus, for either architectural renovations or direct equipment replacement.

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