Linear Accelerator & Cobalt – 60 Teletherapy Unit
The linear accelerator (LINAC) and the Cobalt-60 Teletherapy Unit are types of radiation machines commonly used to deliver external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer. External beam radiation therapy is a method for delivering a beam of high energy X-rays to a patient’s tumor. The beam is generated outside the patient’s body and targeted at the tumor site. They deliver a uniform dose of high energy X-rays to the region of the patient’s tumor. These X-rays can destroy the cancer cells while allowing normal surrounding tissue to be spared.
The 6 MeV linear accelerator has surface electron capability. The advantage of this radiation unit is the versatility allowed in the treatment of various tumors including those of the skin and subcutis overlying the cranium, chest and abdomen.
Veterinary patients must be anesthetized for treatments to keep them still. Patient safety is very important. During treatment, the patient is continuously monitored through a closed-circuit television and state-of-the-art physiologic monitors.
Radionuclide imaging or nuclear imaging is a technique that allows clinicians to obtain images of various body systems. To obtain these images, tiny amounts of radioactive materials (called “tracers”) are introduced into the patients’ body, usually by intravenous injection. The “tracers” emit a certain type of energy called gamma rays which are detected by a device called a gamma camera. Individual images can be acquired rapidly into a computer memory which can then build up a set of images to detail the distribution of radioactivity in a patient. This distribution of radioactivity relates to the pathophysiology of a patients’ disease condition.
Nuclear medicine, with a state-of-the-art digital gamma camera, can aid in the diagnosis of portocaval (liver) shunts, identification and treatment planning of hyperthyroidism in cats, and identification of bone lesions.
CT can “see” inside the brain, and other parts of the body, into areas that cannot be visualized on regular X-ray examination. CT makes it possible to diagnose certain diseases earlier and more accurately than with other imaging tools. Anesthesia is required for veterinary patients undergoing CT imaging. The length of time is relatively short (<45 minutes) and patients are well monitored during the procedure.
A 4-slice helical, or spiral, CT scanner is available at the Tucson office at SAVSEC. The major advantages of helical CT over conventional CT include more rapid acquisition of images, higher degree of lesion detection, better lesion characterization and decreased anesthesia time for the patient.
Radiography and Ultrasound
X-rays and ultrasound are an important part of the evaluation of the cancer patient. All the facilities house state-of the-art digital radiology systems.
Board-certified veterinary radiologists review all of our films.
Ultrasound is a non-invasive way to image internal organs. It poses no known risks to the patient and often can be performed with little or no sedation.
In oncology we use it most for examining the abdomen for masses or lymph node enlargement. We can then use the ultrasound probe to guide our needles to increase our chances of getting a diagnosis.
Board-certified radiologists review all of the ultrasound studies performed.