Calvary Mater Newcastle Radiation Oncology leading the way in treatment planning practice

The Department of Radiation Oncology at Calvary Mater Newcastle has just completed the installation of a dedicated clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner for radiotherapy treatment planning, referred to as an MRI-simulator.

With the future firmly in-mind, Calvary Mater Newcastle has taken the lead in replacing one of its two computed tomography (CT) scanners with a MRI-simulator. This will allow for greatly improved access to MRI for radiotherapy treatment planning at Calvary Mater Newcastle.

John Simpson, Chief Medical Physicist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, said,

“Calvary Mater Newcastle has for some years been a pioneer in MRI-only treatment planning. With greater MRI access we will continue to develop this area to maximise the use of MRI in radiotherapy treatment planning, leading to increased treatment accuracy across a broader range of treatment sites.”

Traditionally radiation oncology uses CT scans as the primary anatomical reference for radiotherapy treatment planning. Where required and available, this information is supplemented by MRI scans obtained from diagnostic radiology scanners.

MRI has a significant advantage over CT for enhanced soft tissue and cancer visualisation. Unlike CT, MRI is also able to provide additional functional information that may be useful for tailoring the treatment prescription or for assessing treatment response.

John continues, “In spite of the MRI advantages, there are technical reasons why CT has remained the dominant source of imaging in radiotherapy practice. Principal amongst these is that MRI does not contain information that can be used for the direct calculation radiation dose. However the technical limitations of MRI are now being overcome.”