Varian introduces brachytherapy offerings
Varian Medical Systems launched a comprehensive product series offering for low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy treatment at the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) conference in Los Angeles this week.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm announced that it is partnering with St. Louis-based Envisioneering Medical Technologies to improve LDR brachytherapy prostate cancer treatments.

Envisioneering is configuring its TargetScan, a first-to-market prostate cancer diagnostic and treatment system featuring 3D ultrasound and a stationary probe, to work with Varian’s VariSeed brachytherapy treatment planning software. Together, these technologies support brachytherapy treatment precision, reducing costs and complexities associated with traditional brachytherapy treatment planning and delivery, according to the companies.

Brachytherapy, a minimally invasive therapy that places radioactive seeds directly into the affected prostate, relies on real-time treatment planning and a stabilized prostate for treatment precision. By using TargetScan and VariSeed together, radiation oncologists can leverage 3D ultrasound technology and a stabilized probe linked directly to real-time treatment planning software. Other methods that do not utilize a stationary ultrasound probe can allow the prostate to shift, potentially leading to inaccurate and ineffective seed placement, Varian said.

“We can now automatically transport 3D prostate ultrasound images into our VariSeed system to plan and assess where seeds are placed and know with certainty how effectively the gland was treated,” said Ted Jackson, PhD, Varian’s chief developer of the VariSeed software. “This represents the next evolution in prostate cancer treatment delivery and planning.”

TargetScan’s 3D imaging improves the visibility of the prostate so physicians can more effectively gather the gland’s dimensions to calculate and monitor seed implantation. Its fixed probe eliminates the time and costs associated with traditional systems and their digital stepper technology, which physically moves the ultrasound probe within the patient. By incorporating TargetScan’s stabilized probe, patients benefit from improved comfort and more accurate treatments.

“By configuring TargetScan to work with Varian’s real-time treatment planning, we are placing new capabilities into the hands of radiation oncologists and their fight against prostate cancer,” said Robert Mills, Envisioneering Medical Technologies president. “We’re not only thrilled with what this means for physicians and prostate cancer patients, but also how our collaboration can evolve so that we may continue to pioneer new frontiers in the diagnosing and treatment of prostate cancer.”

Varian also demonstrated an updated version of its VariSeed brachytherapy seed planning software, VariSeed 8.0.

The most current iteration offers brachytherapy practioners new contouring tools, including the capability to contour in the sagittal and coronal planes. Another new feature is a tool that creates a 3D digital reconstruction of a treatment image and makes it much simpler to define the seed placement. A permanent seed implant involves up to 120 radioactive seeds, each the size of a grain of rice, and conventional 2D imaging can sometimes obscure the placement of overlapping seeds.

In other brachytherapy-related news, the company debuted a new range of its iX afterloaders. The devices use Microsoft Windows-based control software, common to both its VariSource iX and GammaMedplus iX afterloaders, which are computer-controlled devices used for delivering the radiation sources during brachytherapy procedures.

Varian also said that the new device software for its afterloaders integrates with its BrachyVision treatment planning system.