A REVOLUTIONARY piece of equipment to help treat patients suffering from head and neck tumours is coming to Sheffield’s Weston Park cancer hospital thanks to a charity cash boost.
Weston Park will become the first European hospital to treat patients with the new Medicarve device.
This is likely to have a dramatic impact on the comfort of patients, who currently have to undergo a claustrophobic procedure which involves encasing their head in a clear plastic shell fixed to a bed to ensure their intensive radiotherapy treatment is delivered accurately to prevent damage to sensitive areas of the head such as the eyes.
Each patient needs a mask perfectly moulded to their features – created by encasing the patient’s head in plaster of Paris, leaving just a small gap at the nose and mouth.
The new Medicarve system, which was developed in New Zealand, uses a hand-held scanner to create a three-dimensional image of the patient’s head.
A computer-operated piece of equipment then carves an exact replica of the patient’s head shape in either plaster of Paris or resin.
The equipment is being paid for with a £44,300 donation from Westfield Health insurers.
David Ramsden, section chief technician for radiotherapy and physics at the hospital, said: “Our patients will recently have been told they have cancer, so they are understandably already anxious. The new equipment will mean treatment will be quicker and less stressful.
“I have been looking for equipment like this for about 20 years and Weston Park will be the first European hospital to use it for radiotherapy.”