A Mobetron is a mobile linear accelerator that can deliver Intraoperative Electron Radiotherapy (IOERT) to surgical patients. This allows people with cancer to receive a one-time dose of radiation during surgery to aggressively attack cancer cells. Electron radiotherapy in surgery can potentially improve patient outcomes and may be considered as part of a patient’s care plan. Mobetron equipment is expensive and not available at all surgical facilities. If it would be particularly useful in a given case, a referral may be offered to allow the patient to meet with a surgeon who offers procedures with IOERT options.
Cancer surgeons start by removing as much visible tumor as possible. They usually attempt to remove clean margins of healthy tissue to reduce the risk of leaving any malignant cells in the patient’s body. IOERT offers another opportunity to clean up cancerous cells by hitting the patient with a targeted dose of radiation right at the cancer site before the surgeon closes the wound. Historically, this required transferring patients to radiology or special operating suites, which increased risks associated with surgery.
Using a Mobetron, the operating team can perform the surgery, wheel the device into place, and deliver a dose of radiation. This equipment is much lighter than standard linear accelerators, allowing it to be moved by a single trained staff member. It delivers a lower dose of radiation, eliminating the need for shielding beyond that built into the equipment. For patients, this means that no transfer to another part of the hospital is necessary, which reduces the time spent under anesthesia and lowers the chance of infection by keeping the patient in a sterile operating environment.
Trained technicians can work with the oncologist to target the radiation. They position the device in the correct location and program it to deliver the desired dose. Once they’re finished with the radiation therapy, they can withdraw the Mobetron and allow the surgeon to finish cleaning and closing the wound.
This form of radiation therapy is not needed for all patients. It can improve outcomes with certain types of cancers, depending on the specifics of tumor and placement. Patients can discuss their treatment options to determine if intraoperative electron radiotherapy would be helpful. If it is indicated, it may be possible to have a procedure with a Mobetron. Urban areas are more likely to offer surgeries with this equipment, because they tend to have larger budgets that offer more opportunities to buy medical devices.