Model for estimating power and downtime effects on teletherapy units in low-resource settings

Academic Article


  • Purpose More than 6,500 megavoltage teletherapy units are needed worldwide, many in low-resource settings. Cobalt-60 units or linear accelerators (linacs) can fill this need. We have evaluated machine performance on the basis of patient throughput to provide insight into machine viability under various conditions in such a way that conclusions can be generalized to a vast array of clinical scenarios. Materials and Methods Data from patient treatment plans, peer-reviewed studies, and international organizations were combined to assess the relative patient throughput of linacs and cobalt-60 units that deliver radiotherapy with standard techniques under various power and maintenance support conditions. Data concerning the frequency and duration of power outages and downtime characteristics of the machines were used to model teletherapy operation in low-resource settings. Results Modeled average daily throughput was decreased for linacs because of lack of power infrastructure and for cobalt-60 units because of limited and decaying source strength. For conformal radiotherapy delivered with multileaf collimators, average daily patient throughput over 8 years of operation was equal for cobalt-60 units and linacs when an average of 1.83 hours of power outage occurred per 10-hour working day. Relative to conformal treatments delivered with multileaf collimators on the respective machines, the use of advanced techniques on linacs decreased throughput between 20% and 32% and, for cobalt machines, the need to manually place blocks reduced throughput up to 37%. Conclusion Our patient throughput data indicate that cobalt-60 units are generally best suited for implementation when machine operation might be 70% or less of total operable time because of power outages or mechanical repair. However, each implementation scenario is unique and requires consideration of all variables affecting implementation.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McCarroll R; Youssef B; Beadle B; Bojador M; Cardan R; Famiglietti R; Followill D; Ibbott G; Jhingran A; Trauernicht C
  • Start Page

  • 563
  • End Page

  • 571
  • Volume

  • 3
  • Issue

  • 5