The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is home to a new Varian Trilogy linear accelerator, considered one of the most versatile cancer treatment devices available in the field of radiation therapy.

One of the first VA medical centers in the country to offer this advanced technology, the Trilogy accelerator is capable of providing image-guided radiation therapy, which allows for improved tumor localization and treatment precision through the use of an integrated computed tomography (CT) scanner.

“Certain types of tumors shift in location from day-to-day. With this cutting-edge piece of equipment, a built-in CT scanner first takes an image of the tumor for localization. Once the exact position has been verified, the accelerator then rotates around the patient delivering radiation from nearly any angle so the treatment is directed at the precise location of the tumor,” said P. G. Shankar Giri M.D., F.A.C.R., F.A.S.T.R.O, Radiotherapy Section chief.

“This enhances the accuracy of the radiation treatment and minimizes radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissue.”

The new accelerator offers the capability to treat patients with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). SRS delivers higher doses of radiation to smaller areas with extraordinary precision and is particularly useful in treating lesions of the spine, liver, prostate, lung, and brain.

In addition, this accelerator is capable of delivering three-dimensional, conformal radiotherapy, and intensity-modulated radiation, techniques that provide more customized delivery of radiation; and respiratory gating, a feature that makes it possible to track the position of a tumor as a patient breathes during treatment delivery.

“Radiation therapy is used today in more than half of all cancer patients,” said Giri. “With this system, we have the potential to significantly improve cancer treatment outcomes by doing a better job of protecting healthy tissue while delivering higher doses of radiation to the tumor, all in a shorter period of time.” 

The new linear accelerator also helps to allay physicians’ concerns for patients who are advanced in years, fragile, or in pain. It delivers its radiation doses at least 60 percent faster than conventional accelerators; thereby, shortening the length of time patients spend undergoing treatment, in some cases by nearly 75 percent.

“The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is proud to be known for providing our Veterans with the latest and most advanced medical technology,” said Meena Vij, M.D., Diagnostic and Therapeutic Care Line executive. “The Trilogy linear accelerator is an exciting innovation which has the power to save lives.”