November 30, 2022 Oncology

How AMC’s New Radiation Therapy Machine is Benefiting Pets with Cancer

AMC's new linear accelerator radiation therapy machine

How AMC’s New Radiation Therapy Machine is Benefiting Pets with Cancer

November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. To help raise awareness about veterinary oncology, I am devoting my November blogposts to the topic. Last week, my blogpost highlighted “indolent” lymphomas in veterinary patients, including T-zone lymphoma in dogs and small cell gastrointestinal lymphoma in cats. For my last Pet Cancer Awareness Month blogpost, I am excited to write about the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center’s new radiation therapy machine.

AMC has several “big machines,” including our CT scanner and MRI machine, and our newest big machine is the Elekta Infinity HD radiation therapy machine. This is our fourth radiation therapy machine in our 112-year history. Like the previous radiation therapy machine, our latest version is a linear accelerator able to deliver precise treatments and individualized dosage. However, the Elekta Infinity HD adds new features and capabilities to target any tumor in any part of the body better than we’ve ever been able to before, and I’ll detail these benefits below.

Faster and More Accurate Radiation Treatments

The Elekta Infinity HD has a built in CT scanner, which our last machine did not. This allows our team to verify that our patients’ tumor shape and position exactly matches the computer-generated plan for every single treatment. In addition, the treatment table (called the “couch”) is “smart” and can adjust itself to match a patient’s position to their prescribed treatment with millimeter accuracy. This level of accuracy is critical when treating brain, heart, nasal and bladder tumors where surrounding, non-cancerous tissue is delicate.

However, the verification CT scan does not increase the length of treatment time. With our old linear accelerator, treatment times averaged 15 minutes. The new Elekta Infinity HD machine averages five minutes for treatment times, with only one minute added for CT verification scans. This means shorter anesthesia times for veterinary patients. The increased efficiency also allows us to treat more patients for whom radiation therapy can be a game changer in their cancer care.

The Same Oncology Team and Collaborative Care

AMC’s Radiation Oncology Team

The new radiation therapy machine and its treatment planning program are big additions to the Radiation Oncology Service at AMC. However, the team running the machine and designing treatment protocols is the same. We still have the same great Radiation Oncology veterinarians, technicians and assistants as before, some of whom have been with the service since its inception at AMC. In addition, all cancer patients still have full access to the collaborative care offered by AMC’s Cancer Institute, which includes specialists in medical oncology and surgical oncology, in addition to radiation oncology. AMC also has the only board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist in New York City to create the safest possible anesthesia protocols for use during radiation treatments.

A Room Fit for a LINAC

Like AMC’s previous linear accelerator, our new machine sits on the ground floor in a room specifically designed to house a big radiation therapy machine. The walls and ceiling are reinforced with concrete and lead to protect our human and animal visitors from radiation exposure. Although the new machine did not require digging a deeper floor (like we had to do for the previous LINAC), the installation of the Elekta Infinity HD was no easy feat. In total, the machine weighs 18 tons and required 60 boxes to ship to AMC. The working parts of the machine now sit behind a false wall, making the treatment area quieter and more pleasant for the patients and staff.

We hope your pet doesn’t need radiation therapy…

No pet owner wants to go through cancer treatment for their pet but, if your veterinarian refers your pet for a course of radiation therapy, our radiation oncology team can give your pet the best chance at a successful treatment outcome with the latest technology provided by the Elekta Infinity HD.

Tags: Elekta Versa HD, linear accelerator, Oncology, pet cancer, Radiation Oncology, radiation therapy, radiation therapy machine, veterinary radiation oncology,

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