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Institute Has Latest Innovation in 3D Printing for Radiation Oncology

Creating custom-fitted bolus without CT scan, thanks to new 3D scanner

3D Printing for Radiation Oncology

Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute is once again leading the way in the application of 3D printer technology for radiation oncology.

In recent years, the Cancer Institute became one of the first centers in the nation to use a 3D printer and specialized software to make fully customized boluses.

These boluses help ensure that individuals receiving radiation therapy for skin cancer get the intended radiation dose at the treatment site. Now, the addition of a 3D scanner, a gift from the Leonard Pool Society, is expanding this groundbreaking program.

Reducing dose uncertainty

To do its job well, a bolus must adhere closely to the skin surface of the individual who is being treated.

“When a bolus does not adhere adequately, research has shown that there can be about a 30 percent reduction in the radiation dose where it’s prescribed,” says clinical medical physicist Derek Moyer, DMP, Manager of Clinical Physics at the Cancer Institute.

The 3D printer can make a bolus that very accurately conforms to the treatment site on a particular individual. This individualized fit reduces air gaps and decreases dose uncertainty compared with a traditional bolus. It has proved especially helpful for treating skin lesions located near the nose or eyes, or on a rounded or irregular surface such as the scalp or foot.

Using Adaptiiv’s Modulated Electron Bolus software module, it is possible to create a modulated-thickness bolus based on an individual’s treatment plan. This allows for further tailoring of the dose distribution to the treatment site as well as improved sparing of healthy tissue.

Expanding access to 3D tech

CT scanning can provide the information needed to generate a precise model of a body surface. But for individuals who would not otherwise need a CT scan, there may soon be another option: a portable 3D scanner that can be used right in the exam room.

“Our handheld scanner creates a 3D rendering of the skin’s surface with structured light technology,” Moyer says. “We are currently testing the scanner and fine-tuning the workflow. Once we complete this phase, we will be able to create a 3D printed bolus without having to schedule an appointment with CT or expose patients to additional ionizing radiation.”

Moyer expects to begin clinical use of the scanner independent of CT in the near future. “Because it is nonionizing, we have run some tests scanning people in the department,” he says. “It’s quite amazing how accurate the models that we generate are.”

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