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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1997 Apr 1;38(1):213-21.

Integration of radiotherapy planning systems and radiotherapy treatment equipment: 11 years experience.

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Radiation Oncology Department, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-6043, USA.



We have investigated the requirements, design, implementation, and operation of a computer-controlled medical accelerator with multileaf collimator (MLC), integrated with a radiation treatment-planning system (RTPS), and we report on the performance, benefits, and lessons learned from this experience.


In 1984 the University of Washington installed a computer-controlled radiation therapy machine (the Clinical Neutron Therapy System, or CNTS) with a multileaf collimator. Since the beginning of operation the control system computer has been connected by commercially available network hardware and software to three generations of radiation treatment-planning systems. Semiautomated setup and completely computerized check and confirm were incorporated into the system from the beginning of clinical operation in 1984. The system cannot deliver a patient treatment without a computer-prepared treatment plan.


The CNTS has been in use for routine patient treatments for over 11 years. The cost of the network connection and software was an insignificant fraction of the facility cost. Operation has been efficient and reliable. Of the 441 machine-related session reschedulings (out of 18,432 sessions total) during the past 9 years, only 20 were due to problems with data transfer between the RTPS and CNTS, associated primarily with two incidents. Close integration with the treatment-planning system allows complex treatments to be delivered. Dramatic evolution of the departmental treatment-planning system has not required any changes or redesign of either the accelerator control system or the network connection.


Our experience shows that a large degree of automation is possible with reasonable effort, by using well-known software and hardware design strategies. The lessons we have learned from this can be carried over into photon therapy now that photon accelerators with MLC facilities are commercially available.

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