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FDA OK's Varian's radiotherapy tracking device

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | February 28, 2012
Varian Medical Systems Inc. said Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration cleared a new beacon doctors can stick on a patient's skin that helps track breathing and other movement during radiation therapy.

The Surface Beacon Transponder is part of the Varian Calypso system, originally developed by a Seattle company Varian bought in October for around $10 million.

The new transponder works by emitting radiofrequency signals that get picked up by an electromagnetic array, and then allows doctors to adjust radiation therapy in real-time to correct for the movement of the body.

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Varian, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said one potential use of the technology could be in protecting the heart from radiation during breast cancer treatments.

For instance, the surface transponder could be placed on a patient's chest wall, and chest wall monitoring during left breast treatment correlates with the position of the heart, the company said.

Calypso's tracking system first received FDA clearance in 2006 for rice grain-sized transponders that were implanted in the prostate. Two years later, the indications were expanded to include the prostate bed. The company is also studying another device that would allow lung tracking.

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