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Team Medical Physicist & MTRA explains
WHO ACTIVATES HEAVY IONS?
is a medical physics expert at the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center (HIT) and ensures that the technical equipment functions reliably and supports treatment planning.
is responsible for the overall management of the medico-technical radiology assistants at the university’s Department of Radiology and at HIT, and among other things, for the preparation and the positioning of the patients during treatment.
So that the ion beam develops its power precisely in the tumor, Swantje Ecker and Sabine Kuhn work together closely. Together they find the perfect position for the patients and optimize the radiation fields. In addition to all of the technology, they help children not to be afraid of the treatment with their warm-heartedness.
Radiation therapy at HIT
The Heidelberger Ion Beam Therapy Center (HIT) offers a highly precise treatment of cancer using heavy ion and proton therapy. This treatment reaches tumors lying deep inside the body and also extremely resistant tumors with maximum precision. HIT is the world’s first heavy-ion therapy facility with a 360° revolving gantry to direct the rays at the body from any direction.
having a discussion
The physician prescribes the dose and type of radiation therapy and marks the tumor. Together with the MTRAs, we medical physicists optimize the radiation fields and ensure that the dose goes to where it should.
Using computed tomography, I look after the optimal positioning for the patients Precision is everything, so that diseased tissue is destroyed and healthy tissue is spared! For tumors in the head area, we make a special positioning mask, which immobilizes the head, and for tumors in the trunk, we work with vacuum cushions.
Together with our radiology therapists, anesthesiologists, and MTRAs, we are particularly interested in the treatment of children. They are pleased if they have contact with the same persons during the treatment cycle and quickly gain confidence, if they notice that they do not have any pain with us. We play with them and to date we have always managed to ensure that they are glad to come here.
In the team we also work on new positioning possibilities for our little patients...
True! Usually the bottom of the gantry opens around the place of treatment. As children are sedated under the radiation, the anesthesiologist must be able to approach the child at all times. We have found a way so that we can work with a closed bottom by making certain adjustments to the gantry.
This has worked marvelously well with a sedation in the supine position. Thanks to the pivoting source of radiation, we can aim directly at the tumor of a little girl. In this way, we reduce the risk of long-term damage! Now we are working on a prone position under sedation because this would open up new possibilities for treatment, e.g. along the neuroaxis. This is a new challenge, but one that we are willing to take on!
How much does the gantry weigh?
The gantry at HIT is 10 times as heavy, namely 670 tons!
The gigantic steel structure weighs 670 tons, 600 tons of which are rotatable with sub-millimeter precision.