Titanium Fletcher-Suit Delclos-style Applicator Set used for high dose and pulse dose rate treatment of the uterus, cervix, endometrium and vagina, used in conjunction with the Varisource 200 brachytherapy system, made by Varian Medical Systems, Crawley, United Kingdom, 2005
The applicator is inserted close to the site where radiation treatment is needed, and the Varisource system delivers radiation via a source wire. The applicator cylinder is designed so that the distance between the tip and the source remains constant ensuring a targeted, consistent treatment dose. Tungsten alloy segments provide shielding to protect areas of the patient’s anatomy not requiring exposure to radiation. A marking screw allows for external identification of the area being shielded inside.
The afterloader holds the tiny radioactive source (smaller than a grain of rice) in a safe place, until it is needed for treatment. The development of remote afterloading systems, which allow the radiation to be delivered from a shielded safe, and the use of new radioactive sources in the 1950s and 1960s, reduced the risk of unnecessary exposure to the operator and their patients.
Brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy which places radioactive sources close or even inside the area requiring treatment. It is usually used to treat prostate cancer, cervical and womb cancer and sometimes head and neck cancers. The advantages of this technique is that the treatment affects only a very localized area so exposure to healthy tissues is reduced. The radioactive source is applied through applicators typically a needle or plastic catheter. On completion of delivery of the radioactive sources, the applicators are carefully removed from the body. Low dose brachytherapy or radioactive seeds remain in the body over a period of a few months. High dose therapies are carried out for a few minutes per visit as part of a treatment plan.