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White River Medical Center installs new machine for radiation therapy

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published February 16, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.


Members of the Varian crew disassemble the former linear accelerator at the White River Medical Center Cancer Care Center in Batesville to prepare for the installation of the Varian TrueBeam accelerator. Installation is expected to be complete in four to six weeks.

BATESVILLE — The White River Medical Center Cancer Care Center in Batesville is doing its part to get the best of the best for patients who require radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy is used in some form on two out of three people with cancer, according to the American Society for Radiation Oncology, a WRMC news release states.

The hospital is in the process of installing a Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator to use for radiation therapy on patients with some types of cancer, such as brain and lung cancer.

Robert Wright, associate administrator of WRMC clinics, said he looks forward to the new addition to the hospital.

“It’s the latest and greatest [in cancer technology],” he said. “This new machine will mean that our patients will be able to receive the latest technology without having to travel far from home.”

Dr. John Allgood, a radiation oncologist at the WRMC Cancer Care Center, said the new machine is completely digital.

“We’re going to be able to do all of the current, modern planning techniques to be able to pinpoint tumors more accurately,” he said. “We’ll be able to provide more-accurate care for our patients.”

Preparing and installing the new linear accelerator takes about six weeks. Before the new machine could be installed, the old one had to be taken out.

“They have to rework the treatment room, which is called a vault, and that room is being reconfigured,” Allgood said.

Wright said it’s a long process, but will be worth it when the new machine is up and running.

Once the machine is installed, it will go through tests, and each clinician will be trained on the new technology.

“Once it’s up and running, people from Varian will come here and will be on-site [to train us],” Allgood said.

With a more-focused radiation beam, Allgood said, the risk of long-term side effects of radiation therapy decreases.

“I think this machine will allow us to maintain the ability to give modern radiation therapy. We’ll be able to use new techniques being used around the country, and the old machines were not able to do those techniques,” Allgood said.

Stereotactic radiation therapy is one of those techniques.

“This is a more-focused radiation beam on smaller tumors and will be able to focus on the tumor rather than damaging healthy cells,” he said.

According to the Varian Medical Systems website, the TrueBeam system’s treatments only take a few minutes and allow for a more-comfortable patient experience.


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