New state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment has been rolled out across all seven of University Hospital Southampton's units. 

The new technology - known as Surface Guided Therapy - is a "cutting-edge" technique which uses high-tech cameras and sensors to track the contours of a patient's skin. 

This then produces a unique map of their body which, combined with X-rays, means clinicians are able to determine the precise position that requires radiation treatment. 

This will be used to treat patients with cancer and other conditions at University Hospital Southampton (UHS), which is one of the first sites in the UK to roll out the equipment across all of its units. 

Daily Echo: Linear Accelerator (Linac) with ExacTrac Dynamic SGRT system (from BrainLab) at UHSLinear Accelerator (Linac) with ExacTrac Dynamic SGRT system (from BrainLab) at UHS (Image: UHS)

Amy Shaw, radiotherapy technical lead radiographer, said: "This technology and the volume of it now in use in our organisation – across all seven units – is enhancing the way radiotherapy is delivered in Southampton.

"Surface Guidance is a rapidly growing technique using stereovision technology (3D measurements) to track patients’ bodies in 4D for both setup and motion management during their radiotherapy.

"It will help all patients undergoing radiotherapy by improving the efficiency and accuracy of their treatment, as well as removing the need for permanent tattoo marking.

“Very few centres in the UK are using this technology so extensively so we are in a very fortunate position and, as a result, were selected to have upgrades to cameras and software – becoming the first in Europe to use the new ExacTrac Dynamic system.

“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of everyone involved in commissioning and implementing SGRT quickly and safely, allowing us to offer this technology to more of our patients.”

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The equipment tracks and locks the target area precisely and is so sensitive that if it detects movement by even a fraction of a millimetre, it switches off the treatment beam to avoid any damage to surrounding soft tissue or vital organs.

Previously, planning and delivery of radiotherapy involved using permanent tattoos to mark the patient’s body for treatment using information from scans, x-rays and the treating clinician’s knowledge.

UHS treats around 4,000 patients every year with radiotherapy and its radiotherapy treatment centre is one of the largest in the south of England.