Characterizing and Monitoring the Performance of Equipment

Radiation is delivered to patients by complex equipment, which must deliver just the right amount of dose to just the right place in order to carry out the treatment plan chosen for the patient.

When new equipment is installed, radiotherapy physicists must make detailed measurements of the radiation emitted by the equipment under different conditions. The results of these measurements are supplied to the treatment planning computers used in the individualized planning of radiation treatments.

Radiotherapy physicists are also responsible for setting up and carrying out a regime of regular tests to ensure that the equipment is performing correctly and consistently. They are supported in this work by physics associates who perform many of the daily, monthly, and annual measurements which are needed.

The results of these measurements are reviewed by radiotherapy physicists who may call on other professionals, such as Nuclear Electronics or Medical Devices technologists, to make repairs or adjustments, if necessary.

Even the instruments used in testing must themselves, be constantly checked for correct performance.