Maryland Proton Treatment Center

Maryland Proton Treatment Center Monthly Update – Oct/Nov 2015

MPTC Equipment Installation November 2015At the end of October, Varian completed work on the first treatment room to be used clinically. They were able to demonstrate the performance of all aspects of the system successfully. This is a huge step forward towards MPTC’s ability to begin patient treatments. The room is now to be used by the clinical physics team to review and prepare the system for patient treatment. The clinical team will also train with the system to ensure that when treatments start, all processes run as smoothly as possible. Varian now will transition to work on the next treatment room to be handed over, and will continue to work sequentially until all treatment rooms have been fully calibrated and handed over to the MPTC clinical team for verification and commissioning.

November saw intense work on system commissioning, the process where the clinical tea, prepares the system for patient treatment. This process will continue into the new year. During this time the clinical team takes measurements of the proton beam that are critical to properly planning out patient treatments. They also will establish all the quality assurance programs and processes that will be used to ensure patient safety and treatment accuracy throughout the operational life of the facility. Finally, the team will do a good deal of testing and simulation to help ensure smooth, efficient operations prior to patient treatment.

Inside the treatment rooms, he vast majority of fits and finishes have been completed, and the rooms look similar to how they will when used by patients and staff. The facility’s diagnostic imaging devices, a CT and a MRI, have been installed and are being prepared for clinical use. The rest of the facility is largely complete, with final furnishings being put in place, staff amenities being installed, and clinical spaces being outfitted. The diagnostic imaging equipment to be located within the building is being put in place, and will be complete within the next month. Artwork and decorations are now being put in place and the finishing touches being done. It is truly an exciting time as we prepare to receive patients for care.

MPTC continues to be cutting edge, offering the most advanced tools, both in the treatment room with Pencil Beam Scanning and IMPT, and out of the room with next-Gen imaging equipment to help more accurately plan patient care. We are proud of the progress MPTC has made and eagerly await patient treatments.



Maryland Proton Treatment Center Monthly Update – Aug/Sept 2015

In August and September, Varian Medical Systems, the proton therapy system manufacturer, continued the work of tuning the proton beam into the treatment rooms. Varian was able to successfully set up the beamline to transport the beam at all energies at the first treatment room’s isocenter which is a big step towards getting the machine ready for patient treatment. Varian also has been hard at work on commissioning the scanning system.  The beam scanning system in each gantry room allows for the beam to be delivered to the patient’s tumor with pinpoint accuracy, very quickly and safely. This is one of the most critical pieces of the proton therapy system at the MPTC. In the next month Varian will work on preparing all the supporting systems, such as the imaging and patient positioning systems, for clinical use.

The Center itself is getting closer to patient ready. Furniture and fixtures have been installed and IT systems are up and running. The clinical staff is now working from the building and final details are being put in place to prepare the Center to see its first patients.

Maryland Proton Treatment Center Monthly Update – June/July 2015

June continued on the successes of May for the MPTC project.  Varian completed work on the cyclotron and made great strides in the commissioning of the components that allow the beam to be brought from its source to the patients themselves. Properly setting up the beam transportation system is a complex task that requires fine tuning electromagnets and other components to be able to transfer the beam, in a vacuum similar to that found in outer space, to the patient across the full spectrum of energies required with virtually no interaction with the transport tube and any components along the way. This task is critical to the center’s ability to treat patients safely and quickly.  

In addition to working on this commissioning, Varian continued to bring online and calibrate other systems necessary to patient treatment, both in the treatment rooms and across the facility. For example, all of the patient positioning robots have now been calibrated. These devices allow patients to be put into their exact treatment position within about 1mm. 

Outside of the proton equipment, Haskell continues to finish out open construction, with the remaining external changes to the building, replacement of the park across from the facility’s entrance and installation of the patterned entry drive, beginning.

July was an exciting month of progress for the proton therapy equipment.  Varian completed the tuning of the equipment energy selection system and has brought the beam into the first of the five treatment rooms for calibration. Varian has also completed mechanical assembly in all of the treatment rooms, and continues mechanical calibration of minor components in the other four treatment rooms. Once the first treatment room is able to be used for patient treatment, the others will follow in quick succession.

The center itself continues to come closer and closer to completion, with the majority of the final furnishings now in place, and the facility being made ready for permanent occupancy.  Visitors to the building in August and beyond will see much more what the final spaces will look like, and will notice the excellent craftsmanship that went into creating such a spectacular proton center.

Maryland Proton Treatment Center Monthly Update – April/May 2015

May was a great month for the Varian proton therapy installation at MPTC. The cyclotron continues to perform extremely well, and continues to be tuned to provide the very high intensity protons that enable some of the most exciting technology that MPTC will offer to patients, like IMPT. The ability of the cyclotron to operate very efficiently enables fast treatment time, which are of great benefit to the patient’s comfort, as well as overall throughput through the center. 

The five treatment rooms are largely complete, with individual components being calibrated as needed, and only really the cosmetic finishing covers outstanding. Varian has made great progress getting all of the ancillary systems required to run the proton center on line as well. While it is easy to think about the complexity of generating the beam in the cyclotron, for example, it is often other systems, like the safety system, that play an equally important role in the operation of the proton center. The safety system for the MPTC is largely in place and operational, which allow for safe and secure operation of the system components, and generation of proton beams. 

The remainder of the building is in great shape, and work to complete the remaining open construction items will resume in early June. Some of the very visible changes will be the installation of a park in front of the center, and the completion of the custom drive that will greet patients as they pull into the Valet stand and off of Baltimore Street.  The furnishings throughout the building also will continue to be put in place and completed. 

The project is in an exciting period where the final visible changes to the building and system are happening, and we remain on track for patient treatments. The entire team is excited to continue to work to bring this amazing technology to the patients in Baltimore, the state of Maryland, and beyond.

Maryland Proton Treatment Center Monthly Update – Jan/Feb 2015

The Magic Castle at the Maryland Proton Treatment CenterIn January and February, Varian continued to make quick progress on the proton therapy system installation and calibration.  All four gantries are fully aligned, and the cabling on each of them is quickly moving towards completion.  Varian continued the conditioning of the cyclotron, as well, which is a process where they prepare the interior components for the conditions they must sustain for the generation of the 250 MeV proton beam.  The RF Amplifier, which is performing perfectly is the source of this high power.  Varian has also made great progress with the safety system installed throughout the building, completing the work in the cyclotron and beam transport system areas, and making significant progress installing these systems in the treatment rooms. 

Behind the scenes, the uncle of Haskell architect, Bet Lentz built a custom Magic Castle for the center. The University has a tradition around the magic castle, where children who are to undergo treatment put a wish in the castle, and at the end of the treatment that wish is granted. As you will see from the pictures, the castle exceeds all expectations, and is truly a work of art that will make a lot of kids really happy as they come to the Maryland Proton Treatment Center for their care.