Tuesday 23 August Today we undertook further hardware testing of the new Flexitron High Dose Rate Brachytherapy Afterloader (aka The Machine). It’s a complex yet elegant system that drives a tiny pellet of radiation through a tube and into a patient, delivering a high dose of radiation right where we want it – to the tumour. The little pellet of radiation is then retracted back into the machine before coming out again through a different tube into a different part of the tumour to zap it with more radiation. This is repeated several times until the whole tumour has been thoroughly zapped.
Victor (Elekta Engineer) tested that system, making sure that the radiation source is picked up correctly, and that it drives into each tube correctly. Each part of the mechanism was thoroughly tested via a computer attached to “The Cookie Box”. This is the rectangular metal box attached to the mid-section of the machine, so named because it contains “all the goodies”. We like to think of it as the brains of the machine. A small but extremely thick and heavy tungsten safe contains the tiny pellet of radiation, which is smaller than a grain of rice. We call this the heart of the machine.
Sometimes you just have to hammer a point home, and in our case Victor worked on the tiny casings to let the LED lights shine through.
The Machine passed with flying colours! Internal hardware testing is now complete so we can put the cover back on and get ready for the next phase: software testing.