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The spine flexibility creates one of the most significant challenges to proper positioning in radiation therapy of head and neck cancers. Even though existing immobilization techniques can reduce the positioning uncertainty, residual errors (2–3 mm along the cervical spine) cannot be mitigated by single translation-based approaches. Here, we introduce a fully radiotherapy-compatible electro-mechanical robotic system, capable of positioning a patient’s head with submillimeter accuracy in clinically acceptable spatial constraints. Key mechanical components, designed by finite element analysis, are fabricated with 3D printing and a cyclic loading test of the printed materials captures a great mechanical robustness. Measured attenuation of most printed components is lower than analytic estimations and radiographic imaging shows no visible artifacts, implying full radio-compatibility. The new system evaluates the positioning accuracy with an anthropomorphic skeletal phantom and optical tracking system, which shows a minimal residual error (0.7 ± 0.3 mm). This device also offers an accurate assessment of the post correction error of aligning individual regions when the head and body are individually positioned. Collectively, the radiotherapy-compatible robotic system enables multi-landmark setup to align the head and body independently and accurately for radiation treatment, which will significantly reduce the need for large margins in the lower neck.
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VCU Radiation Oncology Publications