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9 November 2022
Austin Health is home to the only MRI Linear Accelerator (MR-Linac) in Victoria, and one of four in Australia. As a fully public service, that is designed to provide care for all Victorians who may benefit from this technology.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) acquired at the time of radiation therapy treatment allows for the precise delineation of the tumour and healthy tissues in proximity to the treatment region.
Brayden Geary is a radiation therapist at Austin Health and is part of the team leading the integration and development of the MRI service in radiation therapy.
"We have two magnets here - one is the MRI simulator, utilised for radiotherapy planning images and the other is the MR-Linac, which is a radiotherapy treatment machine. It's an amazing piece of technology and it really has required the input of a very broad, multidisciplinary team, of which the radiation therapists are a key part," he explains.
"The MR-Linac here at Austin Health has been treating patients for over 12 months now, with a staged rollout of clinical sites," he adds.
The team is currently treating patients with brain, head and neck, breast and prostate cancer, as well as patients with small pelvic nodes.
The enhanced image quality has enabled improved visualisation to give the team more confidence in defining the target volumes. The MR-Linac allows the treating team to adapt to any anatomical changes, with the potential to maximise dose to the target, whilst minimising dose to surrounding healthy tissue.
"We are currently planning our first patient for treatment to the upper abdomen as we speak. We are working in a very dynamic environment, building on the foundation of what we've established from our conventional machines, in the radiotherapy department here at Austin Health," he explains.
"The overall patient experience has been a really positive one, even with longer treatment times on the MR-Linac. It's part of our responsibility to ensure patients are prepared, comfortable and our team is constantly improving processes to ensure best possible patient care," he adds.
Working closely with the diagnostic radiography team has been instrumental in establishing the service.
"We have been working closely with Glenn Cahoon, a diagnostic MRI radiographer. He was instrumental in providing advice on how to safely and effectively function in an MRI environment. Equally important was his technical knowledge and his ability to educate staff and with the active input of the radiation therapy team, make improvements to the service," Brayden adds.
"There are a number of unique challenges integrating this technology in radiotherapy, but the benefits of embedding MRI within the workflow to provide personalised adaptive treatments for patients is worth the effort," Glenn adds.
National Radiographers and Radiation Therapists’ Week (NRRTW) runs from Monday 7 to Sunday 13 November 2022.