NRL Developed Fiber-optic Radiation Dosimeter Finds Medical Use


10/1/1997 - 66-97r
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A new fiber-optic radiation dosimeter, developed at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and tested at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), of the National Institute of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, may provide oncologists with unprecedented capability for monitoring and controlling radiation doses delivered to patients undergoing radiation therapy.

The research team includes: Drs. Alan L. Huston and Brian L Justus, of NRL's Optical Physics Branch, Optical Sciences Division, and Dr. Rosemary Altemus and Mr. Robert Miller, of the NCI, NIH.

According to Dr. Huston, "A radiation dosimeter is a device that measures the radiation dose that has been absorbed by nearby tissue. The small flexible fiber-optic sensors can be used with standard medical catheters and placed inside the body directly at the site of a tumor. The sensor then can provide physicians with such information as the instantaneous dose rate and the total absorbed dose at the tumor during the therapy. The new dosimeter thus will improve the effectiveness of clinical radiotherapy procedures by enabling greater accuracy in the delivery of the desired radiation dose. The fiber-optic system can be modified to allow monitoring of several dosimeters simultaneously so that damage to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor can be minimized."

This dosimeter allows for on-line corrections essential to the operation of new-generation radiotherapy machines using beam-intensity modulation as an adjunct to three-dimensional conformal therapy and thus offers a clear advantage in patient treatment," concludes Dr. Altemus.

The research team reports that, in addition to medical applications, the fiber-optic radiation dosimeter is ideally suited for environmental monitoring. The new sensor can provide a convenient method for remote monitoring of radiation levels in difficult-to-access or hazardous areas, such as monitoring ground water supplies around nuclear waste facilities or high radiation areas in nuclear power plants or waste storage areas.



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About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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