From 1937 to 2014: How Linear Accelerators Have Evolved

linear accelerator

For more than 75 years, linear accelerators have been instrumental in the fight against cancer. Over the years, medical linear accelerators have evolved into the modern day versions that are used today.

Here is a brief timeline:

1937 –  First clinical Van de Graaff generator treatment at Harvard Medical School.

1942 – First clinical Betatron treatment by Konrad Gund in Germany.

1947 – First linear accelerator built at Stanford by William Hansen and the Varian brothers.

1953 – Patient treated with the first medical linear accelerator at Hammersmith Hospital in London.

1953 – Dr. Henry Kaplan and physicist Edward Ginzton developed the first medical linear accelerator in the Western hemisphere.  The 6MV unit was installed at Stanford-Lane Hospital in San Francisco.

1956 – By this date, there were @ 7 clinical medical linear accelerators worldwide.

1957 – The Royal Adelaide Hospital purchased its first medical linear accelerator, the LA1. At the time, the device could only rotate 110 degrees in each direction, meaning that the patient had to be rotated.

1960 – Varian Clinac ®6/100 introduced, the first fully rotational radiotherapy linear accelerator.

1962 – Dr. Kaplan and Dr. Saul Rosenberg begin using chemotherapy with linear accelerators to treat Hodgkin’s disease.

1972 – The original medical linear accelerator was retired to the Smithsonian Institution.

1972 – Dr. Peter Fessenden arrives at Stanford and begins to develop a linear accelerator that combats tumor cells using two types of radiation. Working with Varian Medical Systems, Inc., Dr. Fessenden’s team creates the first linear accelerator that combined both X-ray and electron treatment.

1972 – Introduction of the Varian Clinac 18® high energy medical linear accelerator.

1981 – Introduction of the Varian Clinac® 2500, the first dual energy medical linear accelerator.

1985 – Philips introduces the SL25®, the first fully digitally controlled medical linear accelerator.

1988 – Varian introduces the Varian Clinac ® 2100C, Varian’s first computer controlled accelerator.

1994 – Also developed at Stanford, a linear accelerator was created to continually track the position of tumors in real time. Called the CyberKnife ®, the device was used on its first patient in 1994.

1997 – Stanford continues its research, using intensity-modulated radiation therapy, which combines imaging with linear accelerators that deliver hundreds of thin beams of radiation from any angle.

2004 – Four-dimensional radiotherapy is implemented, which accounts for the motion of breathing during imaging and radiation therapy.

Today – Thousands of Medical linear accelerators are used in hospitals around the world and have been effective in treating millions of cancer patients. Researchers continue to further improve the effectiveness of medical linear accelerators in the fight against cancer.

While linear accelerators have become common practice when treating cancer, it can be costly to repair and maintain these life-saving machines. Acceletronics not only provides maintenance agreements for the on-site service and parts for most all models of linear accelerators and CT scanners to hundreds of facilities across the US and around the world, Acceletronics also provides installed and warranted refurbished linear accelerator systems, system relocations, removals and upgrades.

For more information on how Acceletronics and our sister company, RadParts, can deliver quality service, parts and equipment at a very reasonable cost, please email us at info@acceletronics.com website today.

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