Intraoperative electron radiation therapy (IOERT) involves the delivery of a high radiation dose during tumor resection in a shorter time than other radiation techniques, thus improving local control of tumors. However, a linear accelerator device is needed to produce the beam safely. Mobile linear accelerators have been designed as dedicated units that can be moved into the operating room and deliver radiation in situ. Correct and safe dose delivery is a key concern when using mobile accelerators. The applicator is commonly fixed to the patient's bed to ensure that the dose is delivered to the prescribed location, and the mobile accelerator is moved to dock the applicator to the radiation beam output (gantry). In a typical clinical set-up, this task is time-consuming because of safety requirements and the limited degree of freedom of the gantry. The objective of this study was to present a navigation solution based on optical tracking for guidance of docking to improve safety and reduce procedure time.
We used an optical tracker attached to the mobile linear accelerator to track the prescribed localization of the radiation collimator inside the operating room. Using this information, the integrated navigation system developed computes the movements that the mobile linear accelerator needs to perform to align the applicator and the radiation gantry and warns the physician if docking is unrealizable according to the available degrees of freedom of the mobile linear accelerator. Furthermore, we coded a software application that connects all the necessary functioning elements and provides a user interface for the system calibration and the docking guidance.
The system could safeguard against the spatial limitations of the operating room, calculate the optimal arrangement of the accelerator and reduce the docking time in computer simulations and experimental setups.
The system could be used to guide docking with any commercial linear accelerator. We believe that the docking navigator we present is a major contribution to IOERT, where docking is critical when attempting to reduce surgical time, ensure patient safety and guarantee that the treatment administered follows the radiation oncologist's prescription.