The parties developed a novel pencil beam scanning system that reduces the size of the scanning system, without compromising in operating performance.

The pencil system, which decreases the size of the scanning system, can be mounted on a rotating gantry with superconducting beam bending magnets.

It will enhance a carbon-ion beam to around 70% of the speed of light to irradiate tumor tissues in a patient.

The two electromagnets that guide the beam are arranged in series along the beam line in current systems.

An advanced electromagnet design of the new system will enable the magnets to arrange in parallel, helping to appear as a single magnet.

The space-saving configuration helps in downsizing and reducing the distance from the scanning electromagnets to the irradiation target (iso-center) from 9m to 3.5m.

A heavy-ion therapy system with a rotating gantry holds capacity to irradiate a patient at any point along 360 degrees, avoiding the need to tilt the treatment couch and reducing patient stress.

The scanning magnets used in current systems required to be placed far enough away from the iso-center to produce the irradiation field need for specified treatments, while magnets in the compact scanning system eliminates this requirement and decrease gantry length and weight significantly.

Toshiba new technology project engineering department senior manager Mr Yutaka Hirata said: “Toshiba has already led the way in applying advanced expertise in superconductivity to downsizing the rotating gantry, but we recognized that even further size reduction is necessary for wider adoption of heavy-ion therapy systems.

“With our colleagues at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (QST-NIRS), we have now realized a rotating gantry that is more affordable for customers around the world.”

Image: Comparison of rotating gantry with new pencil beam scanning system that is superimposed on current system. Photo: courtesy of TOSHIBA CORPORATION.