by Loren Bonner
, DOTmed News Online Editor
From the July 2012 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine
Based on the name alone, one might guess that a phantom could be used in place of a patient to either validate treatment or provide a practice medium for learning imaging procedures. Indeed, doctors, application specialists, and technologists rely on phantoms as training tools. They can demonstrate proper imaging and surgical techniques without risk to a patient.
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CIRS, a phantom technology company based in Norfolk, Va. Sells a phantom—the Model 008A Dynamic Thorax—that can be taken through all the steps a patient would undergo in image guided radiation therapy.
“Some of our most popular products enable ‘end-to-end’ testing and validation of complex processes,” says Mark Devlin, president of CIRS.
Middleton, Wis.-based Standard Imaging, a supplier of radiation calibration and quality assurance instruments for health care, specializes in phantoms to perform quality assurance in the radiation oncology field.
“They prove to be beneficial when clinicians are testing the treatment delivery system for accuracy or acceptance testing upon purchase of a new technology or a routine upgrade of existing software or hardware products prior to treatment of a patient,” says Andy Simon, territory marketing product manager at Standard Imaging.
One example is Standard’s LUCY 3D QA Phantom, used to perform end-to-end quality assurance of a stereotactic radiosurgery technique.
“The phantom has many inserts that allows the clinician to test every step in the sequence for a SRS treatment, from the imaging capability of the MRI Machine, CT scanner and treatment delivery verification, from the treatment machine — typically a linear accelerator or similar device. Along the way, the image fusion, localization, treatment planning, and export to the treatment plan and positioning can all be verified,” says Simon.
Devlin says that minimizing dose while optimizing image quality is an important topic right now, which the company has been trying to respond to.
“A lot of attention has been given to the effect of excessive dose to patients, especially children. CIRS products can support facility efforts to improve their protocols and abide by the Image Gently and Image Wisely campaigns,” he says.
Phantoms are also used for equipment quality assurance, hospital acceptance testing, research and American College of Radiology accreditation. Data Spectrum Corporation, a family-operated business based in Hillsborough, N.C., sells a Flangeless PET Phantom specially designed for ACR accreditation purposes.