Although a multicenter, Phase III, prospective, randomized trial is the gold standard for evidence-based medicine, it is rarely used to evaluate innovative radiotherapy devices because of many practical and ethical reasons. It is usually sufficient to compare the dose distributions and dose rates for determining equivalence of the innovative device to an existing one. Thus, quantitative evaluation of the dosimetric characteristics of an innovative brachytherapy device or application is a critical part in which physicists are actively involved. The physicist's role, along with physician colleagues, in this process is highlighted for innovative products or applications and includes evaluation of 1) dosimetric considerations for clinical implementation (including calibrations, dose calculations, and radiobiological aspects) to comply with existing societal dosimetric prerequisites for sources in routine clinical use, 2) risks and benefits from regulatory and safety perspectives, and 3) resource assessment and preparedness. Further, calibration methods should be traceable to a primary standards dosimetry laboratory such as NIST in the U.S. or to other primary standards dosimetry laboratory located elsewhere. Clinical users should follow standards as approved by their country's regulatory agencies that approved such a brachytherapy device. Integration of this system into the medical source calibration infrastructure of secondary standard dosimetry laboratories such as the ADCLs is encouraged before a source is introduced into widespread routine clinical use. The AAPM and GEC-ESTRO have developed guidelines for the safe and consistent application of brachytherapy using innovative brachytherapy devices and applications. The current report covers regulatory approvals, calibration, dose calculations, radiobiological issues, and overall safety concerns that should be addressed during the commissioning stage preceding clinical use. These guidelines are based on review of requirements of the U.S. NRC, FDA, Department of Transportation, International Electrotechnical Commission Medical Electrical Equipment Standard 60601, European Commission for CE Marking, and institutional review boards and radiation safety committees.
- 1.Understand the necessary dosimetric considerations for clinical implementation (including calibrations, dose calculations, and radiobiological aspects) to comply with existing societal dosimetric prerequisites for sources in routine clinical use.
- 2.Evaluate risks and benefits from regulatory and safety perspectives.
- 3.Identify necessary resources and create a plan for clinical introduction of innovative brachytherapy device or applications.
Consultant for Theragenics Corp.; R. Nath, Consultant to Theragenics Corp.