Siemens highlights advances in radiation oncology with several new systems
Siemens Medical Solutions demonstrated some of its latest technologies in radiation oncology image imaging and treatment aimed at achieving the company's goal of joining molecular imaging data with oncology, at last week's American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting in Denver, Colo.
Siemens' theme -- 'Integrating Biology' or Biology-Guided Radiation Therapy (BGRT) -- is essentially the process of incorporating molecular imaging data within radiation oncology, through a workstation for example, to use the information throughout the treatment process including diagnosis, tumor staging, and treatment planning, said Jim Bilich, senior product manager.

To this end, the company showcased what it called its 'imaging chain' through its syngo-based Coherence products. Coherence is a series of products with special tools for oncologists providing a variety of ways for them to manipulate, review, and store images coming from the various modalities.

A new Coherence development is the ability for users to send images to an off-line review area. This is important because in light of the large size of cone beam CT images, for example, a huge volume of data is being created. Siemens is trying to create more of a PACS-like environment for oncology departments, said Bilich.
MVision, the company's works-in-progress megavoltage cone beam (MVCB) system, was also on display. MVision provides CT-based, three-dimensional (3D) image acquisition. Once available, it is designed to provide volumetric, versatile, automatic online targeting of the area to be treated and will provide additional information for correct patient positioning prior to treatment.

Siemens' newest addition to its series of ONCOR linear accelerators also was showcased -- the ONCOR Expression system. The system comes standard with MVision and is designed to deliver advanced, radiation therapy treatments with OPTIBEAM IMRT, an optimized technique for intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) delivery that uses best-in-class verification to safely provide treatments with speed and accuracy. ONCOR Expression is not yet FDA 510(K) cleared, but will be submitted by year's end, the company said.

Another work-in-progress, the ARTÍSTE with In-line kilovoltage (kV) imaging is optimized for image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), Volume Guided Radiation Therapy (VGRT), Structure Guided Radiation Therapy (SGRT), and Dose Guided Radiation Therapy (DGRT). 

Once available, ARTÍSTE will offer both kV and megavoltage (MV) imaging capabilities by providing a separate radiation source and imaging panel for each energy range. Other features will include real-time correlation of target and delivery, as well as synchronized image and dose measurement, as well as optimized patient clearance via the most open design available. The availability of this system is a couple years out, Bilich said.

For these systems, the ARTÍSTE included, Siemens has developed a variation on what "the industry generally is calling IGRT but we tend to call it here because we are using volume VGRT [Volume Guided Radiation Therapy] ," said Bilich.
Siemens also announced its partnership with The V Foundation, an organization founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late North Carolina State head basketball coach Jim Valvano to raise money for cancer research. The sponsorship will include cause-related merchandising, event marketing programs, advertising during ABC/ESPN televised games throughout the 2005-2006 season, as well as online and game program promotions and hospitality.