medical robotics - fields of activity
The exacure system is the first stand-alone medical device that has been developed by BEC, as a certified medical device manufacturer (DIN ISO 13485) and got successfully installed at MedAustron in Wiener Neustadt.
A custom-modified industrial robot, designed and adapted for medical use, is the core of the exacure-system. Its most distinctive feature is the ceiling mount, which allows for movement in seven independent degrees of freedom. The robot can not only be positioned in all three dimensions and six degrees of freedom, but also be moved along the ceiling towards and from the beam nozzle in order to further improve flexibility of patient positioning. Another advantage of the ceiling-mounted system is the integrated optical tracking system: it monitors the treatment couch position 500 times per second and applies corrections in real time, if necessary, to ensure optimal treatment results.
The agility of the robot, which can be optionally ramped up with a seventh axis for extended workspace requirements, enables examove to position and move patients in all six degrees of freedom (DOF) and perform +/- 130 degrees of isocentric rotation. In the up to 300 kg payload category, KUKA offers the most compact machine on the market, and with the highest power density, making it possible to position patients weighing up to 300 kg. BEC technology makes the positioning system accurate up to ± 0.5 millimeters. Mass-induced fl ex of the couch can be compensated for by look-up tables and models of the system or can be automatically compensated by a tracking-based feedback loop.
Systems with high radiation resistance for BNCT
The requirements for medical devices that are used for BNCT treatment differ substantially from the requirements for systems used in conventional radiotherapy, as material properties are degraded by the neutron irradiation. Depending on the spectrum of the neutrons the exposure limits the life time of components or makes them even unsuitable for BNCT treatment. The exacure system from BEC is currently the only certified medical device available that meets those challenging requirements and ensures patient safety during BNCT treatment with the full range of functions, including patient positioning and imaging.
Boron Neutron capture therapy (BNCT) is a unique non-invasive type of radiation therapy for treating tumors with a two-step procedure*. First, the patient is injected with a tumor-seeking drug containing a non-radioactive isotope (boron-10) with a high neutron capture cross-section. In the second step, the patient is exposed to a beam of low energy neutrons. After losing energy as they penetrate tissue, the neutrons are captured by the boron, which subsequently emits high-energy alpha particles that can selectively kill those tumor cells that have taken up sufficient quantities of boron. Scientific studies** demonstrate that these particles systematically destroy the tumor cells while imparting relatively little damage to adjacent areas of healthy tissue. BNCT can make the process of radiation treatment much less onerous for the patient and has the potential to greatly improve therapeutic outcomes by treating the primary tumor site as well as undetected metastases in local region of the tumor.
* Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_capture_therapy_of_cancer
** Coderre and Morris (1999) The Radiation Biology of Boron Neutron Capture Therapy. Radiation Research: January 1999, Vol 151, No. 1, pp. 1-18.
Projects & References
Neutron Therapeutics / Danvers, Massachusetts / USA
BEC supplies the patient positioning system with Siemens CT integration to Neutron Therapeutics in Helsinki. Neutron Therapeutics works on bringing Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) out of the realm of medical research and transform it into a widely available first-line cancer therapy. (BNCT) is a unique type of radiation therapy that enables treating locally invasive malignant tumors such as primary brain tumors and recurrent head and neck cancer. http://www.neutrontherapeutics.com
Australian Synchrotron / Melbourne /Australien
Integration of the exacure patient positioning system with the Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL). The IMBL enables outstanding high-resolution dynamic 3D imaging to reveal tiny differences in the interface between air, tissue and bone: the source of many diseases. For this purpose, BEC developed a special chair that allows 3D images of patients to be taken without interference contours. http://www.synchrotron.org.au
MedAustron / Wiener Neutstadt / Österreich
BEC delivered the complete solution for all four treatment rooms at MedAustron, one of the most modern centers for ion beam therapy and research in Wiener Neustadt (Austria). Our certified medical device "exacure" is used to treat cancer patients with accelerated protons and carbon ions. BEC, together with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and Philips Healthcare, was one of MedAustron's three largest project partners. www.medaustron.at
Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center (HIT) / Deutschland
The Heidelberg Ion Beam Therapy Center (HIT) is a pioneer in the treatment with accelerated carbon ions. It was built from 2003 to 2009 by Siemens in Heidelberg on the grounds of the University Hospital and started patient operation at the beginning of November 2009. The project scope of BEC included the project management for robot integration (patient positioning and imaging) and software integration as well as the visualization of treatment planning. http://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de
Marburg Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) / Deutschland
At the Marburg Comprehensive Cancer Center, BEC's scope of work included simulation and planning of the treatment and CT rooms, development of a safety concept for workflow optimization with a shuttle system, delivery of software and hardware modules for the robots for patient positioning incl. imaging and further sub-projects in the area of oftware integration and visualization of treatment planning. www.ccc-marburg.de
Relearning the movement of the arm and hand is an important therapeutic step, to help stroke patients regaining autonomy again. However, current forms of therapy are often inadequate in their execution. For successful therapy, the frequency of exercises and applications must be steadily increased. BEC develops robot-based rehabilitation systems for the precise diagnosis of existing abilities and therapy of the upper extremities. This allows patients to quickly relearn their motor skills and increase patient independence.