The Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau (CCRPB) at Health Canada is dedicated to overseeing One of their research focuses is on investigating stochastic effects resulting from ionizing radiation emitted by various medical examination devices. To quantify, biological dosimetry, which involves assessing genetic damage to biological tissue, the CCRPB employs biological equivalent phantoms to measure the amount of ionizing radiation absorbed for a given radiation dose. Positioning a phantom head accurately within a cone beam CT or X-ray emitter is a very cumbersome process which can lead to human error and data inaccuracies.
To address this challenge, in 2021, the Mechatronic Dosimetry Systems (MEDS) project was launched to develop a system that would reduce the need for human intervention during radiation dosimetry setup, while enhancing both accuracy and positioning speed within the radiation field. This project focuses on creating a reliable testing solution for precise experimentation and data collection by developing a robotic gantry system.
The 2021-22 team achieved significant milestones, implementing a robotic state with four degrees of motion, and conducting design analyses for the frame leveling and powertrain. The 2022-23 team aimed to enhance safety, accuracy, and reliability by integrating detection sensors, homing sensors, limit switches, and E-stops, however, the implementation of these safety measures was not completed. This year, the 2023-24 MEDS team aims to provide Health Canada with a completely operational testing system paired with a user-friendly phantom control system. The team aims to implement previous designs, optimize the system functionality with new, out-of-box ideas, and deliver a precise and repeatable testing interface.
The overall purpose of the MEDs project is to ensure the safety of patients during medical tests with devices that emit radiation. Medical dosimetry systems measure the amount of ionizing radiation exposed to patients and absorbed by human tissue from medical devices. The CCRPB develops guidelines and standards that hospitals and other businesses that use these devices in consumer and industrial applications, must abide by. The MEDs system will be used to collect consistent and usable data for the CCRPB of Health Canada. As described in the campaign, artificial phantoms that resemble human body tissue are used in dosimetry testing procedures. Blood tube samples are placed within the phantoms to mimic the shielding a typical human would have. The blood samples are then removed from the phantom and tested to determine the effects of the radiation dose absorbed by the samples. The purpose of measuring in-vitro radiation is to obtain and provide physicians and other health care workers with accurate data to optimize patient treatment parameters. Overall, the safety of the patient during medical imaging is the main priority for the MEDs capstone project. Radiology tests are extremely common in the health care industry to assess injuries, monitor pregnancies and diagnose the cause of a patient’s symptoms. A patient’s exposure to ionizing radiation from medical devices such as computed tomography (CT) scans involve risk and can lead to future health problems. For instance, ionizing radiation emitted from medical devices infiltrates human tissue and can damage a patient’s cells and genetic material. Thus, it is important to ensure that medical dosimetry systems are extremely accurate and repeatable.
The funding received from donors will be strategically utilized by the 2023-24 MEDS team to enhance the existing system. The team plans to address key areas, such as system mobility and safety, electrical wiring organization, and user convenience.
Specifically, donor funds will support the implementation of a transmission gear system by the Mechanical Team, ensuring seamless motion and improved mobility. To tackle the disorganized and hazardous electrical wiring, the team will design an insulated electronic compartment unit, enhancing safety and usage. Additionally, the current inconvenience caused by separate attachments for each phantom head will be resolved through a unified attachment design, simplifying installation, and enhancing user experience. Moreover, donated money will be allocated to purchase or design a push handle, improving the maneuverability of the system through Health Canada. The Electrical Team will focus on control enhancement, power consumption reduction, and repeatability testing by implementing sensors. Donor funds will facilitate the purchase of an LCD screen and reorganization of power distribution.
The ultimate objective is to deliver to Health Canada an easily operated, fully functional control center system with precise phantom head positioning for testing, and the MEDS team is confident in their ability to achieve these goals successfully with the allocated funding.
The MEDs project provides a practical learning experience for team members. By working on the mechanical, electrical, and software aspects of the system, our team gains valuable knowledge in designing and implementing complex technologies. This hands-on experience not only enhances our technical skills, but also deepens our understanding of real-life implications. This allows team members to recognize the importance of their designs, as these medical dosimetry systems will have a direct impact on the safety of patients. This awareness emphasizes the need for precision, reliability, and safety in our work, fostering a sense of responsibility and ethics.
At a personal level, the impact of the MEDs project is crucial for patients. The medical dosimetry system developed through this project will ensure the safety and well-being of individuals undergoing radiation-based medical procedures. Patients will have confidence that the radiation doses administered during tests are precisely controlled, minimizing potential health risks, leading to a more positive overall healthcare experience for patients.
The impact of the MEDs project extends to the broader community, particularly to families and patients. Families can trust that the medical dosimetry systems developed through the help of MEDs contribute to the overall improvement of healthcare standards within the community. Moreover, by ensuring the safety of medical tests involving radiation-emitting devices, the MEDs project contributes to the overall health and wellbeing of the community. As community members encounter various healthcare situations, having access to safe and reliable medical technologies enhances the quality of life of everyone involved.
In summary, the MEDs project not only enriches the academic and technical knowledge of the team members but also has a positive and lasting impact on individuals at a personal level within the community.
Any support is greatly appreciated!
MEDs 2023-2024 Team