Four Ways Radiology Can Reduce Its Climate Change Impact

Typically, climate change (a.k.a. global warming) is associated with planes, trains, and automobiles using fossil fuels, hazy skies, and radioactive plants pushing clouds into the atmosphere. However, the radiologic industry plays a more significant role than you might imagine, and industry leaders say the time to reduce that impact is now.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, a team of industry experts, including Geraldine McGinty, M.D., MBA, president of the American College of Radiology (ACR), issued a call-to-action statement.

“Radiology is well-positioned to spearhead climate change action in our practices and the healthcare system at large. Addressing climate change provides an opportunity to improve healthcare delivery and increase value of care using a different problem-solving approach,” said the team.

The Yale University School of Medicine released data that shows 10 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions (and nine percent of harmful non-greenhouse air pollutants) originate from the United States healthcare system.

Radiology is a significant contributor to each hospital’s energy use. In Switzerland, as the team pointed out, their three CT and four MRI scanners accounted for four percent of the hospital’s overall energy use. Being more environmentally conscious isn’t specific to the industry; it’s a patent priority as well. In the United Kingdom, a survey conducted showed that 92 percent of patients also consider sustainable healthcare operations vital.

Substantial energy use: Radiology utilizes an enormous amount of energy. In the span of a year, cumulative consumption from one CT scanner can equate to five four-person households. A single MRI uses nearly as much as 26 four-person residences. If at all possible, opt for ultrasound instead. Not only is it cheaper, but it also uses less radiation and has a lower environmental impact. Moreover, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to shorten MRI protocols can lower energy use. To further reduce the carbon footprint, implementing life cycle analyses can quantify the environmental impact of various modalities.

Standby mode: To reduce the amount of energy used by the imaging machines, use standby mode. Even when idle, they are consuming significant amounts of energy, according to the team. Cooling machines take an equal amount of energy to operate. The team recommends a 24-hour operating cycle, as well as exploring energy-efficient HVAC systems and imaging technique improvements.

Power down: Though leaving the PACS on overnight might be more convenient and efficient for workload management, the team suggests turning the machine off overnight. A hospital in Iceland left its systems on overnight and accumulated 25,040 kilowatts of energy, producing 17.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide. These levels are equivalent to the emissions produced by four passenger cars annually. To decrease costs and improve energy efficiency, powering down can be an easy way to accomplish these goals. Additionally, the team suggested reducing excess packaging in your procedures to drive down the environmental costs in production and disposal.

Opt for clean energy: The team said now is the time to shift from fossil fuels and lean toward renewable energy. As prices are dropping, several facilities are already making progress. For example, Kaiser Permanente has achieved carbon-neutrality, and Gundersen Health System is already net carbon positive.

To make these changes a reality, radiologists need to become activists, according to the team. Lobby local ACR chapters to join national efforts or reach out to specialty societies to further push environmentally sustainable radiology. Publishing carbon footprints can help other medical departments understand the environmental dangers associated with over-utilization.

Radiologists are urged to join the Medical Society Consortium on Climate Health, which includes 29 national medical societies, as suggested by the team.

Acceletronics is an industry leader in delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from CT Scanners and Linear Accelerators across all major brands and models. Call 610-524-3300 or visit our website: https://www.acceletronics.com.

Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

Purchasing a Preowned Linear Accelerator – Great Quality at a Lower Cost

When choosing the medical equipment for your facility, it can be a difficult decision to find the best system that can provide treatments for patients while trying to stay inside a budget. Many radiation oncology centers struggle with the decision to purchase a new system vs. preowned refurbished medical equipment. If given a choice, a new linear accelerator will seem most appealing because of the updated technology and advanced features it offers. However, due to economic and other factors, it may not always be a reasonable option. Purchasing used and or refurbished medical equipment does not mean that your facility is stuck using out of date technology. There is still a lot of equipment available, allowing buyers the opportunity to receive the most up-to-date technology at a much lower price tag.

Starting a New Practice/ Facility

Purchasing used or refurbished medical equipment may be an excellent option for new clinics since they may not have the start-up capital for new products. If treatments are given to fewer patients (less than 8-10 times a day), and machine use is low, this will allow a business to start building up a revenue base for the practice. In the beginning, a facility may decide to buy newer equipment within 4-7 years while operating older equipment.

Having a Backup/ Relocation Plan

Many medical centers may be currently performing treatment with one system, so having a backup machine is a good plan to ensure patient schedules run without delay due to limited operating capacity. The process of replacing or supplementing a linear accelerator can extremely cumbersome, lasting 3 to 4 weeks in some cases. Having this long of a delay in treatment can be detrimental to patients that need treatment daily. One option to consider is to purchase a nearly identical, used linear accelerator and install it within a new location. Once the new center is operational, the company can remove and resell the original machine; This will ensure no disruption with patient care occurs and offer a smooth transition for relocation.

Room for Improvements

Purchasing a used linear accelerator will give your facility more room to grow and allow for cost-savings benefits. Many machines can receive upgrades later during their life since most original manufacturers or third-party companies offer upgradeable options for used equipment models. If the software is more important to your clinic than hardware, this option can be cost-effective since the software is typically more expensive than the hardware.  However, this option is not a perfect solution for all medical centers as each center will have specific requirements that may find new medical equipment to be a better choice.

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale.  More information can be found online at https://www.acceletronics.com/.



Types of Radiation Therapy

Radiation treatment continues to grow and change in order to improve the health and quality of life to cancer patients all around the world. With radiation therapy, high-energy particles or waves of energy are used to treat cancer by breaking up the DNA of cancer cells in a way that destroys their growth and division. Radiation can kill cancer cells or can decrease the rate at which cancer will spread. 

Goals of Radiation Therapy

A doctor may recommend radiation as a treatment option at different stages of a cancer diagnosis. When cancer is found in earlier stages, radiation therapy can help decrease the size of a tumor before a scheduled surgery or be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancerous cells. Radiation therapy can also be used in later stages of cancer and can be used as a solution for pain relief, or part of palliative care. When speaking of types of radiation therapy available, there are two main forms used for treatments both external and internal. Doctors will sometime prescribe radiation therapy to be combined with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, and others.

External Radiation Therapy

The most common type of radiation treatment involves an external source of equipment that delivers radiation from outside a patient’s body that is aimed at a targeted cancer site. Equipment used in external beam therapy include systems such as proton and neutron beam machines, orthovoltage x-ray, Cobalt-60 machines, and linear accelerators. The team of radiation oncologists will determine which method and system are best for treatment, depending on the location of cancer within the body. These systems can be used for patients who have several tumors of the head, neck, breast, lung, colon, and prostate. There are two levels of radiation when external radiation therapy is performed depending on the location of the tumor, low-energy and high-energy radiation. Low-energy radiation may be a better choice in treating surface tumors like skin cancer since it will not penetrate very deep into the body. High-energy radiation is used when patients require deeper penetration to reach cancerous cells hidden in the patient’s body.    

Internal Radiation Therapy

There are a few different types of internal radiation therapy available. One method is called Brachytherapy, which is described as placing radiation sources as close to the tumor site as possible. In some instances, it can be inserted directly inside the tumor. The implant may be temporary or permanent and is used in many cancers such as ones found in the cervix, uterus, vagina, rectum, eye, and in certain parts of the head and neck. Brachytherapy is separated into categories by the method in which radiation is placed on the body.

  • Interstitial Brachytherapy – involves placing radioactive needles or wires in the tumor area for a selected length of time, whether a day, a week or can remain in the patient’s body permanently.   
  • Intracavitary Brachytherapy – the placement of a metal or plastic radioactive source that is inserted into body cavities such as the vagina, uterus, or larynx to irradiate the cancerous walls within the cavity or the tissues nearby.
  • Intraluminal Radiation Therapy – delivers radiation to hollow organs. A surgeon or a radiation oncologist performs this method by inserting a specially designed tube in an opening such as the esophagus for cancer treatment.
  • Radioactively Tagged Molecules – radioactive particles are attached to small molecules and delivered intravenously.

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale. More information can be found online at  https://www.acceletronics.com/.

Purchasing a CT Simulator and X-Ray Tubes

Before a patient begins treatment with radiotherapy, a team of experts will meet to develop a specific plan for each individual patient. The first step in the planning process may involve the use of a CT simulator, which includes a CT scan of the area of the body that needs radiation treatment. This piece of equipment is essential during the initial planning process and is a great asset to any clinic or organization to have available for use. Many considerations should be made when purchasing radiotherapy equipment such as a CT simulator, the software and cooling systems, and the purchase of an x-ray tube.

Choosing a CT Simulator Based on the X-Ray Tube

The most expensive component of a CT Simulator that also needs to be replaced the most is the x-ray tube. The x-ray tube is required to endure very high heat loads, preferably having the ability to store 5 million heat units (MHU) or more. The use of high heat unit tubes provides a longer life of the unit, which will, in turn, save on downtime when needing to be replaced. In choosing a CT Simulator to purchase, it is best to base the decision on the tube it comes with. A system that may be less costly upfront may have a tube that does not last very long and could ultimately cost more in the long run than if initially purchased with a better tube, to begin with.

Best X-Ray Tubes for Your Buck

When looking at CT Simulators for purchase, the tubes as explained above are important to consider in longevity. Each system comes with a specific tube and no upgrade options are available. Some of the most popular x-ray tubes for CT Simulation include:

  • GE RT 4 MCS7079 Varian Mini Hercules 7.5 HUU – This tube is well known for not being the best, but perhaps one of the worst-performing tubes with a short life span as well. Another downfall is that Dunlee replacement tubes are not offered for this model and must have a Varian tube from GE that can cost roughly $200,000 new. There are used options for replacements for under $100,000. Overall, this tube should come with a large caution sign showing the many reviews from users to stay away from this system if possible.
  • GE RT 16 Hercules MX240 8.0 MHU – These next tubes have a reasonable life expectancy of about 6,000 to 10,000 patient scans performed however, they have been known to exceed this amount and go beyond 15,000 scans. The tubes are warranted from GE and Dunlee for 6,000 scans. There are new replacement options from the Dunlee manufacturer and Reevo 240G that are priced at $195,000 new. They can be purchased used for $75,000- $100,000 as well. 
  • Philips MRC 600 8.0 MHU – This third option is by far the best in value with tubes that are among the longest-lasting on the market. The x-ray tubes exceed 800,000 to 1,6000,000 scan seconds or roughly 4 to 7 years at a mid-range patient occupancy level. On average, they can cost $140,000 new and $40,000-70,000 used.

Weighing Pros and Cons

Purchasing equipment for radiotherapy is never an easy task with having so many options available, both new and used provided as well. When choosing tubes at a lower price point, it may give a company good value in the short-term, but keep in mind, it will need to be replaced more frequently. If you don’t want to worry about needing to replace the tubes as often, a higher-end tube is your best option, but it will cost more. Ultimately, you need to take into consideration your facilities’ unique needs for the best solution available.

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale.  More information can be found online at https://www.acceletronics.com/.



Should I Replace or Upgrade My LINAC System?

Having a shiny LINAC system in your clinic entitles you to benefits and services other clinics lacking this technology do not. Such a system is imperative when dealing with minute cancer situations and can not only give the medical staff an edge but also give patients a guarantee of quality others cannot. That said, a proper LINAC system is, quite obviously, not a cheap system to not only implement initially but maintain over time. At one point a clinician or technician may decide the time has come to upgrade to what’s best out there, but such a decision is not so black and white. This article should briefly outline why so.

What Do You Have?

When making the decision to upgrade, you have to look at what you have already implemented. What you have may actually be satisfactory despite being old. LINAC systems themselves are as pricy as one may expect but are also modifiable with different parts that make up the whole. Linear accelerators can be classified as defined by their part status. Essentially, your linear accelerator can be classified from older and lacking upgrades, through newer but lacking and older and possessing upgrades, to newer and possessing upgrades. Where your system lies on the spectrum indicates whether or not making upgrades is worth the cost when considering the competency.

What is Your Budget?

Depending on the overall budget and success of your clinic you may find it smarter to simply upgrade certain parts on your older LINAC system. If money is no object you can naturally swap out your system – even if it’s new – for a newer, more modern and up-to-date model. Having an infinite source of funds is most likely not the case for most clinics, so you must take budget into effect and decide if your system is old enough to really warrant a true upgrade. Remember, upgrading certain parts of your system will always be cheaper than an outright replacement, and going with used upgrades is still a viable and more cost-effective option.

Do You Have Time?

When replacing a LINAC system completely, time is of great importance. Upgrading certain parts on a system can take hours and can be done overnight, but swapping out an entire system can take much, much longer. Are you able to survive with such an important machine out of the office for so long? If your system isn’t too old and has competent upgrades, then it can be hard to justify that absence. Any experienced clinician understands his or her own office enough to know whether or not that absence is detrimental to overall clinic success.

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale.  More information can be found online at https://www.acceletronics.com/.