Valdecilla and the UC develop a new system and device for positioning medical needles in brachytherapy

20 de June de 2017

Professionals of the radiotherapy oncology service of the Marques de Valdecilla University Hospital in collaboration with professionals of thePhotonics Engineering Group from the University of Cantabria develop a system to detect the position and depth of catheters in brachytherapy. This group has applied for a European patent in March 2017.

Brachytherapy is a medical technique for the treatment of cancer by which radioactive seeds are placed in or near the tumor. These radioactive sources are introduced into the patient through hollow needles, which channel inlet to the desired position. The needles can be metallic or plastic, and there are different models and manufacturers on the market.

The position of the needles and their depth are determined by the patient's treatment plan. And in turn, a correct position ensures that the treatment that the patient receives is the one desired.

The solution developed in Valdecilla consists of a brachytherapy needle positioning system that facilitates to the healthcare professional the position and depth of the needles inserted in the patient's body. This device comprises a brachytherapy grid, a catheter and a software system .

The grid is a generally matrix shaped holder with holes through which the water is introduced. In the grid developed in Valdecilla, the holes are illuminated both to indicate to the healthcare professional where to introduce each needle, and to confirm that the needle is inserted in a certain position. In addition, thanks to a probe, it is possible to know the depth to which it has been introduced.

The system works with any commercial, plastic or metal needle, and could work with any brachytherapy robot on the market.

Currently, the dump of the data regarding position information and depth of the needles to the brachytherapy robot is done manually: a professional determines it visually, and enters the data into the robot software. With this system, the professional sees through a user interface, the relative position of each needle in the grid, and the depth to which it has been introduced.

This system facilitates the work of healthcare professionals and contributes to reducing errors and improving patient safety.

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