This week, second year Radiation Therapy students are practicing treatment techniques in the classroom. We are very fortunate to be equipped with the VERT simulator technology which allows us to look at real patient plans for a variety of treatment sites. VERT represents a virtual environment of the radiation therapy treatment room. It is a three dimensional view of the treatment machine, treatment room (with all the features you would find in an actual treatment room including emergency stop buttons), patient body shape, patient position, treatment/tumour volumes and other important internal body structures.
Today my classmate and I have been assigned with investigating and presenting to a treatment technique used to treat a patient with cancer in the right breast. We were able to upload a file that consisted of all the information associated with a right sided breast treatment plan and technique. We were able to look through the CT images of this particular patient. A CT image provides a view of all the internal anatomy, which is used to locate the site and extent of the patient’s tumour as well as the area that will be treated. From there we were able to look at the technique being used and the beam arrangements to cover the breast and associated lymph nodes.
The VERT simulator is basically a large screen at the back of our classroom. it projects from behind the screen so we can stand in front of it without casting a shadow. It also has a fully function hand pendant. The hand pendant is identical to what would be found in the real treatment room. It is used to move the treatment couch up, down, left, right and rotated along the floor. It is also used to move the treatment machine. Radiation Therapists must be well acquainted with the hand pendant since it is used with every patient to achieve the desired set up and ensure treatment is being delivered to the planned area.
VERT provides a very useful opportunity for students to get used to working in the “treatment room” and maneuvering all the equipment!