Should I Buy a Used Linac Over a New System?

Medical-grade Linear accelerators are investments, not an impulse buy. That being said, a linear accelerator is an essential tool in any oncologist office. Owners of a medical oncologist clinic have the option of purchasing a new linac system or invest in a used system, and there are advantages and disadvantages for both. You can essentially break the parameters into three (or more) situations:

Your Office Space

The space and size of your medical office or clinic is a good factor when deciding to go either used or new for a linac system. Smaller clinics will benefit from a used system, especially those with a small client-base that don’t move through more than a handful of patients a day. This also pertains to offices that are new and just getting started, or established offices that are small in space. Offices and clinics just starting up can go with a used system at first and upgrade to a brand-new system when the profits call for it.

Your Intentions

Not all offices and clinics revolve heavily around the use of a linac, but rather use it sparingly. This is a simple reason to go with a used system over a new one. Operating these systems can get expensive, and offices that heavily use a linac system with all the bells and whistles accompanying it have better use for a shiny new device. Conversely, those offices or clinics that only use it sparingly can go with a used model that is more stripped down to a model precisely tuned for their needs. You also may be a new office with the intention of having a higher-level model in the future, but current-day budgets don’t allow it, which calls for a more budget-friendly used system.

Your Experience

Is your office or clinic moving? Do you have any intention of moving in the next year or so? Are you generally a busier clinic with many patients? New linac systems are great for busier and more modern clinics but for those with the need for backup units, a used system is better to keep on hand for when a new system breaks down, especially with all the parts that go into such a device. Similarly, if you’re a clinic that has plans to move everything it may be easier for the future if you go with a used system that will be installed only to be uninstalled for a big move. Even higher-tiered clinics can find themselves moving, so this is something to keep in mind when setting up a clinic initially when starting up.

Medical grade linear accelerators are a product in which all oncologist clinics should be investing. That being said, making a purchase can be smarter when going with a used system rather than new; it just depends on your office space, intentions with the system, and overall experience of running your clinic.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user-friendly, low-cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

Knowing the Ins and Outs of Linac Repairs Part 1

Understanding the complexities of linear accelerators can be rather difficult since these machines are such large, expensive machines. A linear accelerator operates by delivering external beam radiation treatments to patients fighting cancer, but they also include additional imaging systems that are attached such as portal dosimetry or onboard imaging which too add to the complexity. Due to such precise functionality of such a variety of parts inside the unit, it is crucial for any clinic to have the proper expertise on-site to work on these machines and know exactly what these systems do.

The Importance Of Treatments

Investing in proper expertise is a very serious matter for the oncology department to consider due to the fact that patients receiving the treatment must continue a regular schedule with as little amount of downtime as possible because of the cumulative effect that radiation has on the cancer cells and if treatment is stopped, the entire treatment process will have to be restarted all over again.

In-Depth Training

A clinical engineer not only needs to know how to complete a repair on a broken or damaged part of a linear accelerator but needs to understand the actual process of how the equipment is designed to work during treatments. Troubleshooting can be very difficult if not familiar with the problem that is being described by the clinic operators. It is part of the technician’s job to be able to translate what an issue could be related to a piece of software or hardware component. Developing this skill set and the understanding of linear accelerators takes a great deal of time and not always be taught in just a few sessions of training during a treatment occurring. Training alone is not effective enough when needing technicians to perform repairs at clinics. Vendor service schools can range anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 or even possibly higher depend on the level of expertise. The portion for training on linac is roughly 6 weeks of school during a 2-year period however additional schooling can be done for onboard imaging as well. The entire process could take 3 to 4 years to complete which will include hands-on experience.

Finding The Right Time for Repairs

Linac parts are regularly checked during preventative maintenance visits which are generally recommended by the manufacturer to occur 3 to 4 times each year. Each maintenance visit requires detailed checklists and the individualized machines also have onboard alert systems programmed to shut off a device if a problem is found to prevent safety concerns. The most difficult question that needs to be solved is when can time be taken to actual repair the Linac equipment? In many facilities, patients are scheduled every 15 minutes throughout an 8-hour period, 5 days a week. With the importance of continuing treatments for a clinic’s patients, downtime is the worst part of the day. If possible, a technician will bypass the issue and continue limping along, treating patients when possible. Much service work is then performed after hours or on nights/ weekends. Some clinics choose to have a backup machine when these instances occur and one needs repair but this adds on additional costs and still extended hours added to a facility.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

LINAC Removal and Disposal Service

Out with the old and in with the new as people always say. Replacing your radiation equipment is a must in the cancer treatment world to better provide quality and efficient services to cancer patients worldwide. If repairs to linear accelerators exceeds the value of the machines, it is best to begin looking at buying a new or refurbished linear accelerator to replace it. The removal of your equipment is no easy task and should consult the professionals that are experienced in this process to comply with state regulations, liability and safety concerns, and to ensure it is done properly so that you do not spend additional money to get services done multiple times.

Preventing Prolonged Downtime

With every linear accelerator replacement or removal, a clinic will expect to have treatment for their clinics to be suspended. This delay can be very difficult and dangerous for many cancer patients due to the nature of the sickness. Radiation therapy destroys the DNA of cancerous cells much faster than healthy cells which is a large advantage in cancer treatment. Healthy cells recover from radiation quicker sometimes even by the next days treatment while the cancer cells continue to become weaker. Interruptions to this treatment schedule will allow cancer cells to grow back and gain strength so down time is not really an option for many of people. Having to travel to a new hospital for treatment is not ideal so many clinics may try to have a second machine that can be of use, but this too can be an expensive alternative for the companies.

Moving the Linear Accelerator Equipment

The process of moving a linear accelerator to a new location or for disposal can be quite a large task and by large they estimate roughly 25,000 pounds that stand over 8 feet high. Despite their massive size, they are very fragile and must be moved properly and with most care which can take extensive amount of time anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks even. Depending on the type of linac being removed, concrete floors or walls may have to be broken around the base frame so that future construction for renovations can be completed.

Purchasing Refurbished Equipment Vs New

When ready to purchase a replacement linear accelerator there are a few options to consider since this is a big financial decision. A new linear accelerator on average can cost $2,928,771. Purchasing a refurbished linear accelerator is considerably less in comparison. A refurbished or used linear accelerator does not mean that it is old or outdated technology. Many newer style oncology equipment can be found on used product market. Buyers can purchase the latest technology at a more affordable price with refurbished. Another advantage, many of the machines are upgraded frequently with platforms designed for the used systems.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

Pre-planning Linac Maintenance

Medical linear accelerators have continued to make progress through history since the late 1950’s and pave new ways for curing a variety of different cancers that once were not an option to treat. The design of the equipment combines the use of hardware and software that together gives the advantage of precision and overall success of today’s cancer treatment worldwide. Manufacturing and design continue to evolve and become a better tool for future use in reliability and efficiency but as with all mechanical systems, dysfunction and failures still exist. Having unplanned accelerator downtime and failures can impact a company and its patients very negatively. The scheduled treatments need to be performed at precise times given by the cancer specialists for an effective procedure while fighting against cancer. To avoid these situations from occurring, proper testing and maintenance of the radiology equipment must be done.

Steps During Maintenance

  1. Deliver a daily quality assurance (QA) treatment
  2. Automatically move and examine the log files that are created
  3. Create baselines, then perform daily operating and performance values to statistical process control (SPC) for examination
  4. Investigate if any alarms have been activated
  5. Inform the facility and system service engineers

Trained Professionals

Medical physicists will typically receive basic training of the principals of linear accelerators functionality, but much hands-on experience will be lacking since there is a limited access to linacs that’s are in clinical use but more importantly because these devices can only be adjusted with small set of parameters to maintain. For actual technicians, training for service personnel is generally one of the largest components to a person early on in employment. The process can be lengthy and costly and require unique training from the manufacturer of linear accelerator company.

Scheduled Maintenance and Repairs

Typically, Linac machines will be under an annual service contract that will provide scheduled, preventative maintenance throughout the year to keep the radiotherapy machines running optimally. Keep in mind, older equipment may reach their “end of life” period and may no longer be supported or even worse parts can become sparse or unavailable which may be a reason to start to look for replacement linear accelerators. Extending the life of your current systems with upgrades will be the most cost-effective option for your business. By repairing or upgrading the system this will also not only save money but save precious down time that will need to be taken if having to remove and install new equipment is needed. Not having a machine functioning will mean no treatments being performed which could cost you losing valuable patients.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

Techniques Used in Radiation Therapy

The leading cause of death globally remains to be cancer. The word cancer is often used when a person describes how a loved family or friend dies. The first cancer treatments appreciated were introduced in 1895 after the discovery of Xrays. Cancer treatment has continued to progress at an increasing rate each year with new technology and growth in knowledge on the subject. There are many treatment options to be considered such as radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormonal therapy.

Radiation therapy continues to be one of the most important components of treatments available since it’s estimated 50% of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy during their sickness. The reason for such a high amount of uses for this type of treatment is the efficiency to target the cancer cells with beams of radiation produced by radiation equipment called a linear accelerator or LINAC. The high energy x ray beams destroy the cancer cells while preventing radiation damage from the healthy cells. Radiation therapy can be delivered in two different ways, the first is through External beam radiation. This type is the most common and is used from the outside of a patient’s body by aiming the radiation beams at the location of tumor. The second type of delivery is Internal radiation or also called brachytherapy. Internal radiation is done through the inside of the body by radioactive sources such as catheters or seeds directly into the tumor.

Fractionation

Radiation dose fractionation is radiotherapy delivered in a fractionated form. This type of therapy generally increases the survival of normal tissues and cells over the cancer cells. Normal cells multiply more slowly compared to the rapid increasing cancer cells which allows the healthy cells more time to heal before they replicate.

3D Conformal Radiotherapy

New technology has allowed older 2D radiation therapy that previously used rectangular fields based on plain X-ray imaging to be replaced with 3D radiation therapy based on CT imaging. This replacement allows for a more accurate target of the tumor as well as precise location of other normal organ structures for the most efficient beam placement and shielding to occur.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Oncologists can create irregular-shaped radiation doses that take shape of the tumor while also having the ability to avoid other organs with IMRT technology. This process is all possible due to two factors which are inverse planning software and also computer controlled intensity modulation of multiple radiation beams during the process.

Image-guided Radiotherapy

The possibility to miss a tumor due to organ movement or the variations needed for each patient’s setup it becomes even more important for treatment options to be more precise than ever before. When critical tissue and organs are close to the tumor, a slight positional error could lead to radiation damage to the healthy cells. IRGT is created and utilized to allow detection of these such errors by the information taken through pre-radiotherapy imaging which can be used for corrections.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)

Another type of treatment that is possible today due to advances in newer technology is SBRT. This treatment delivers very high separate doses of radiation over only a few treatment fractions to destroy small tumors anywhere in the body of patient. The side effects of this however, tissues that are close in proximity to the tumor is likely to get damaged due to the high radiation dose. Since the amount of normal tissue effected is small in the high does region, toxicity is less.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

Choosing Radparts For Your Linac Needs

Radparts is a unique supplier of OEM replacement parts for linear accelerators and CT scanners.  We partner with Acceletronics who offers a number of services surrounding LINACS including sales of new and refurbished radiation equipment, the servicing of radiation equipment, and a variety of services including relocation and removal of linear accelerators.  This arrangement allows us to provide services that other companies cannot.

Selling new and refurbished medical equipment can be quiet a challenge.  This is true of CT scanners, linear accelerators, MRI systems, and other higher valued medical equipment.  Medical facilities face a great deal of challenges of their own with making large scaled equipment such as financing, regulations, time issues, delays, and a million other obstacles that can cause delays.  When working with the team at Acceletronics and Radparts we help to create a process that is practically seamless for our clients.  This allows you to focus on growing their business and creating an environment to offer the most complete and comprehensive patient care program for patients undergoing radiation therapy.

Why We Are Better Than the Rest

  • Short-Terms Solutions – Sometimes facilities need a little more time to prepare for the installation and delivery of their new or refurbished linear accelerator.  When our clients find themselves in need of a temporary solution to ensure their patients needs are met, we have them covered.  Our sister company, Acceletronics, has pre-owned equipment that can be purchased to buy some time. These systems can then be utilized as a back up at a later date or resold.  This is often a more affordable solution than renting a mobile unit.
  • Financing – New facilities and healthcare centers do not often have a lot of capital to buy and operate new medical equipment.  We offer financing options as well as less expensive refurbished equipment that can be used to provide quality care to patients until facilities are more established.
  • Contracts for Service – We offer a number of contracts for servicing equipment. The major benefit is the team effort between Acceletronics and Radparts which ensures the parts that are needed to service your equipment are available and ready when needed.  Here at Radparts we specialize in parts for repairing all linear accelerators and radiation equipment.  We are the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for LINAC. With over 65,000 parts in stock and 3,200 individual line items – we are almost guaranteed to have what is needed to service or repair your equipment in a timely fashion.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

Is It A Good Idea to Purchase A Pre-Owned Linear Accelerator?

Not every facility needs to purchase a new linear accelerator.  There are many times where a slightly used LINAC will serve the purpose of the facility at a fraction of the cost of a new one.  Some facilities however, benefit from the purchase of new equipment.  It really just depends on a number of variables to determine if a used, new, or refurbished linear accelerator is the solution for your facility.

When a facility needs the newest technology on the market, it is obvious a used or refurbished LINAC will not benefit them.  This is also the case if you are not looking to replace the machine anytime soon.  A brand new or almost new linear accelerator is a better option for facilities that don’t want to replace their machine in the next ten to fifteen years and are looking for the latest and greatest technology. 

The struggle between buying new, refurbished, and used radiation oncology equipment is a struggle many facilities face.  It is probably important to note however, that the minute you use a new linear accelerator it becomes used.  So not every used machine is “used” to the same extent.  Used and refurbished linear accelerators can be suitable for facilities under certain circumstances including:

  • When your facility is treating less than 8 to 10 patients a day, the revenue you are producing will not sustain the expense of a new machine.
  • Areas where reimbursement is low, and your clinic needs to be profitable to continue providing treatment may be better suited to purchase a used or refurbished unit.
  • The machine will be used in a limited capacity and doesn’t necessarily benefit from the latest technologies.  These circumstances may include using the machine for research, treating animals, or non-medical, industrial purposes.
  • Your facility will be able to afford the latest and greatest in the next couple of years but just can’t without first building a profitable practice.
  • You are opening a new medical center and don’t have the resources to secure financing on a new machine. 
  • You are moving to a new location, can’t afford downtime, and need to be able to treat patients during the process and currently only have one machine.
  • If your facility needs a back up to prevent downtime in patient care during maintenance and repairs on your main LINAC.
  • A new facility is being built but you need a temporary way to treat patients.
  • When the hardware aspect of treatment is not as important as the software.  Used and refurbished equipment can have updated software installed when your budget doesn’t allow for both upgraded software and hardware.

Obviously, brand new, state of the art equipment when purchasing linear accelerators and CT scanners is something all facilities desire, it is not always the most practical situation.  Purchasing used equipment doesn’t mean that your facility is operating with technology that is necessarily out of date.  Often newer style equipment can be acquired with little use.  It is important to remember just because it is used it doesn’t mean it is used up.  Used simply means that at one time or another it has been in use for patient care.  It could be the latest Varian model used for treatment in a facility briefly.  Used equipment can often save facilities a great deal of money in machine costs and financing.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

Does It Cost Money to Have an Old Linear Accelerator System Removed?

This is a frequently asked questions when healthcare centers are starting the process to budget for the purchase of a new or refurbished Linear Accelerator.  It is important to not be surprised when it comes to financial obligations within a medical organization.  The answer is Yes, there is a cost to have old LINAC systems removed from your facility.  There is a cost to have new equipment installed as well but that is often combined with the price you pay for the equipment itself. 

Although linear accelerators are a machine that offers a priceless treatment in the fight against cancer with lifesaving radiation beams treating thousands of patients for countless number of years, they do become worthless.  Like most machines, over time the labor and linear accelerator parts cost more to repair the LINAC machine than it is worth.  When this occurs, the machine is worth nothing and needs not only to be removed but also properly disposed of. 

 Another element to add to the mix is the introduction of new technology.  This is a reoccurring issue that is seen in medical equipment.  Older machines cannot be updated to run properly with the latest and greatest treatments and therefore simple become worthless.  Yep, even some LINAC machines with life left in them become obsolete to healthcare providers promoting the latest and greatest treatments.  Although these machines are worthless to these facilities they can often be moved and utilized by other facilities such as veterinarians, possible dermatologists, and of course in poverty-stricken locations that would otherwise go without. 

When a linear accelerator has been deemed to have little to know value, meaning no one is willing to pay you for it, your facility will face the cost of removal.  This cost includes professional and safe dismantling, removal, and disposal of the LINAC.  This process often requires the system to be loaded onto a crane as they weigh several thousand pounds.  This should be done by professionals to prevent catastrophe. After the machine has been removed from the facility it will be tested for radioactivity and disposed of once they are cleared. 

At the end of the day, when all is said and done the cost to have a large scaled piece of medical equipment such as a linear accelerator removed, dismantled, and disposed of ranges between $5,000 and $25,000.    

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

Installment One – The Process Of Treating Cancer Using Radiation

What is radiation therapy anyway?

Radiation therapy is one of the most common ways to treat cancer.  Depending on the type and nature of cancer being treated will depend on what method radiation is delivered to your tumor.  Most commonly, a linear accelerator is used to deliver external beam therapy.  LINAC machines deliver radiation directly to your tumor, externally.

How does radiation therapy work?

When radiation is delivered using a linear accelerator it is delivered to both cancerous cells and healthy cells. Radiation affects cancerous cells more than healthy cells.  The highest possible dose of radiation is delivered to kill off the cancerous cells.  Smaller doses can be delivered when the aim of treatment is to reduce the size of the cancerous tumor and relieve the symptoms.

Who plans and delivers your treatment?

Cancer oncologists will create a plan of treatment for patients.  When the treatment that is planned requires radiation, a radiation oncologist will oversee the treatment and delivery of radiation.  A team of cancer experts including nurses, specialists, counselors, dieticians, and assistants will help guide you throughout your treatment.

How is your treatment planned?

All cancer treatments are designed with the patient, the type of, and size of cancer.  Radiation therapy is no different.  Before radiation treatment is given patients will visit the facility to go over the plan of treatment that has been designed specifically for them.  Radiation oncologists and radiation therapists will develop a plan based on x-rays and scans from simulators.  Marks are then placed in strategic locations to pin point the areas to be treated.  These marks will be placed each and every visit as the cancerous tumor changes.  For cancers that are in the head, a guidance mask is created from a mold of the patients heads and is used to stabilize and pin point treatment due to the sensitivity of the area.

Does radiation therapy require hospitalization?

Radiation therapy is most often done on an outpatient basis however in some situations your radiation oncologist may recommend that you be admitted if they think it would enhance the success of your treatment.  This is rare and usually does not occur as long as you are able to travel to and from the hospital for treatment.

What tests are performed in conjunction with radiation therapy?

Over the course of radiation treatment your oncologist will want to perform a number of follow up scans and x-rays to make sure the cancer is reacting to the radiation as expected.  Occasionally additional lab work is required and is considered normal and nothing to worry about.

In our next installment on radiation therapy we will look deeper into what you can and cannot do during treatment and ways to combat side effects and more.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.

 

 

The Lifespan of a Linear Accelerator Parts

A linear accelerator has a wide range of built-ins that are designed to ensure patients are only given the recommended dose of radiation.  The dosage recommended by the physician should never be ignored or changed as each treatment dosage is unique to each patient.  Linear accelerators are comprised of several parts and mechanisms that age over time.  This article will go over what facilities can expect when it comes to the average lifespan of the parts on LINAC systems, CT scanners, and other radiation oncology devices.

The Lifespan of Linear Accelerator Parts

The lifespan of linear accelerator equipment comes down to two major elements: usage and maintenance.  On average medical facilities can expect that large scaled radiation equipment, such as linear accelerators, to last around 5 to 10 years before they begin to break down.  Regular maintenance of your LINAC system keeps it running smoother, longer.

Examples of medical equipment lifespans are:

  • High use parts like Magnetron and iView detectors can last upwards of two to three years and with average use around four to six years.
  • X-ray tubes with high use last about eighteen months however with low usage can last if four years.
  • XVI detectors can last up to ten years within linear accelerators that have low usage whereas with high usage XVI parts last around five years.
  • Thyratron tubes have a lifespan of anywhere between three to five years.

Age and Usage of LINAC Parts

The average life expectancy of most linear accelerator parts depends on the legitimacy of the parts and the amount they are used. There are some parts that need to be replaced yearly with increased use, like the electron gun, however with low usage can last upwards of six years.

Environmental factors cannot be ruled out as it also affects the ion chamber of a linear accelerator, high humidity can cause a reduced lifespan. While an average ion chamber will only need a replacement after four years, one in an environment with high humidity will need a replacement after a year.

When to Replace Aging Parts

Replacing aging parts over time is necessary to avoid causing any damages to the equipment. Some corporation has a habit of considering the price of the equipment and the costs involved in changing the parts over time, and as such delayed the immediate replacement of an overdue or overused equipment. But, this is never a good yardstick of profit maximization, in the long run definitely, a breakdown of significant parts of the system may be disastrous to the equipment.

As a Linear Accelerator stays over time and ages, errors can creep in and this will have an adverse effect on the accuracy of the equipment.  It is reasonable to expect a good 5 to 10 years of use out of the linear accelerator, but the maintenance also takes its toll on expenses if it stays much longer.

Companies can often get more usage out of a machine and ensure errors are resolved or controlled just by keeping the software up to date and replacing or upgrading linear accelerator parts as at when needed.  Most importantly it is advisable to choose a reputable company to replace your LINAC’s aging parts as the wrong equipment can end up creating more damage to the machine instead of improving its performance. Most companies who sell linear accelerators and parts will have service contracts available that offer varying levels of support.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.