A new era in diagnostic imaging has begun at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital with the delivery in September of the Varian Trilogy System, an advanced linear accelerator that will enhance delivery of radiation therapy as well as reduce adverse side effects in patients thanks to increased accuracy in focusing the beam on the tumor and sparing normal tissue. It also offers the opportunity for cancer treatment specialists at the Animal Cancer Center to do something they have never done before – radiosurgery – including treatment of osteosarcomas and brain tumors.
The Varian Trilogy System for IGRT (image guided radiation therapy), IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) and stereotactic radio-surgery is currently being installed, which will be followed by testing, with plans to have the system fully operational by November.
“Installation of the Varian Trilogy will get us up to state-of-the-art technology and help us be more competitive in research grant applications, as well as help advance our veterinary oncology clinical program,” said Dr. Susan LaRue, a Professor in Cancer Biology and Oncology, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. “We will be the only veterinary hospital in the world with this type of capability and we will be leading the way in improving radiation therapy not only for our companion animals, but for people, too.”
The Trilogy is equipped with an on-board imager which enables clinicians to track the motion of tumors while the patient is lying on the treatment platform and deliver radiation at higher doses with unparalleled accuracy. The system has a RPM Respiratory Gating system which will enable medical staff to deliver treatments more precisely by tracking and adjusting for tumor movements caused by breathing. Treatment is further fine-tuned through the use of a multi-leaf collimator that can shape the beam during treatment in response to changes in tumor dimensions from one point to another. Another feature is the Acuity X-ray system with conebeam CT capability for generating 3D images of tumors and surrounding healthy anatomy that sync up to the treatment planner. The CT capability also allows for accurate positioning of the patient to ensure that the tumor is positioned properly during treatment.
“This is an especially exciting time at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital because of the new diagnostic imaging technology and facilities under development, including the Varian Trilogy linear accelerator and a new PET CT that will enable improvements in diagnostic imaging as well as treatment protocols,” said Dr. Fred Harmon, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences and the College’s first medical physicist, who is charged with getting the system up and running.
Funding for the Trilogy System is being provided by the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, the Animal Cancer Center, and a loan from the Colorado State University Research Foundation to be re-paid with earnings from the Trilogy System patient care fees and grant overhead.