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Cancer care

Manitoba acquires image-guided linear accelerator

WINNIPEG – Manitoba is investing more than $7.5 million to bring leading edge non-invasive surgery technology to the province. The province announced it will purchase the Siemens Artiste system, which combines a linear accelerator with imaging technology to deliver a high precision, image-guided dose of radiotherapy to any part of the body.

Unlike conventional linear accelerators, the combination of these technologies allows for high-precision doses that are constantly adjusted to ensure that the right dose is precisely focused on the tumour, reducing damage to healthy surrounding tissues.

“The purchase of this state-of-the-art technology – the Siemen’s Artiste – builds on our previous technological investments, including the acquisition of the GAMMA Knife, the PET-CT scanner and the Cyclotron,” said Premier Gary Doer. “When installed, this revolutionary equipment will be the first of its kind in Canada – possibly the world – and will firmly establish our province as a premier world site for radiosurgery.”

Dr. Brian Postl, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said the acquisition of the technology – which uses adaptive radiation therapy (ART) – will make Winnipeg one of only a few cities worldwide that has the combination of this type of technology, along with a GAMMA Knife, PET CT-scanner and cyclotron.

“That greatly enhances our ability to continue to recruit and retain the best and the brightest medical staff available, while providing Manitobans with access to the most innovative healthcare technology in the world,” said Postl.

Dr. Michael West, Co-Director of the Winnipeg Centre for GAMMA Knife Surgery, said the acquisition of the Artiste will dramatically improve patient care. “As with GAMMA Knife procedures, patients remain awake, there’s no incision and so the risks of infection and other complications are virtually eliminated,” he said. “Patients who have undergone GAMMA Knife procedures tell us just what a difference it has made in their lives.”

In addition to the province’s $7.5 million investment, the Health Sciences Centre Foundation has pledged to raise an additional $3 million for the project.

Dr. Brock Wright, Chief Operating Officer of Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, said Hubert Kleysen, Chair of the Breakthrough! Campaign., will lead the HSC Foundation fund-raising effort. “We are delighted that Mr. Kleysen has agreed to lead this effort, as he has been instrumental in working with the region and government to make this vision a reality.”

With this technology, some patients with inoperable tumours will now be eligible for surgery. The equipment will be used to perform a number of different kinds of procedures, including surgeries for:

• spine lesions that do not respond well to standard radiation;

• lung cancers that were previously inoperable or could not be treated with standard radiation due to limited lung function;

• liver cancers that have spread from other areas of the body and are usually fatal;

• kidney cancers that are not typically responsive to standard radiation; and

• cancers of the pelvis (ex: rectal, cervical and prostate).

The equipment will be located in the Siemens Institute of Advance Medicine building (SIAM) at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, currently under construction.

Andy Hind, Vice-President of Siemens Canada, said this builds on the successful partnership between Siemens and the WRHA. “Through the Siemens Institute for Advanced Medicine we are working together with the region, HSC Winnipeg, and the Province of Manitoba to ensure patients have access to the very latest, trendsetting healthcare technology.

“Working with our partners to provide the highest quality patient care and improved outcomes is our ultimate goal,” said Hind. “It is very satisfying, too, that the technology we’ve developed has had, and continues to have, a profound effect on the lives of patients.”

Installation and operation of the Artiste is expected by fall 2008.