Patients Get Exposed to Excessive Radiation from Stereotactic Radiosurgery

December 30, 2010
By Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC on December 30, 2010 9:51 AM |

Three Evanston, Illinois patients recently received excessive amounts of radiation from a popular radiation therapy called stereotactic radiosurgery, also called SRS. These accidents have devastating effects on patients, according to a recent NYTimes article. As a result of excessive radiation, one patient is nearly comatose and requires treatment in a nursing home.

Our Annapolis Maryland injury attorneys have experience representing Plaintiffs who have been injured by excessive radiation either by the negligence of medical providers and/or defective medical devices.

SRS is a treatment designed to target tiny tumors affecting the brain or spinal cord, while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.

The NYTimes article reported that SRS systems made by Varian and its German partner Brainlab have figured in scores of accidents. While experts claim that there is nothing inherently wrong with the devices in question, called linear accelerators, most problems are the result of user error and a lack of guidelines for mixing and matching multiple companies' products.

For example, in the Evanston incidence, a mismatch of a cone-shaped attachment to the linear accelerator caused excessive amounts of radiation to spill out of the accelerator.

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Linear accelerators are less expensive than a competing medical device called the Gamma Knife. Linear accelerators are also less regulated.

While SRS is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, the Gamma Knife is regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, since it uses a radioactive isotope. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is required to publicize incidents regarding radiation.

Not only is the FDA not required to publicize adverse events, the FDA approved the linear accelerators with little review on the grounds that it was an extension of old equipment.

Experts from the American Society for Radiation Oncology are calling for a central database for the reporting of errors involving linear accelerators.

If you've been injured by a radiation accident, please call the Brassel, Alexander & Rice for a free consultation.