What are Medical Imaging Phantoms?
Medical phantoms are often referred to as medical imaging quality assurance phantoms and are used for machine setting and calibration of various imaging systems including X-Ray, MRI and PET/CT. They are also extensively used for Radiotherapy systems, including Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) and Proton therapy. Calibration and system checking often happens daily to ensure the system is adjusted to a known standard using the quality assurance phantom before being used on patients. Acrylic phantoms with aluminum foils imbedded are widely used in the NHS for mammography systems.
Quality Assurance Phantoms Accuracy
By their very nature, these phantoms must be manufactured to very tight tolerances using highly repeatable processes, tools and verification techniques. They are typically precision CNC machined and then polished using engineering plastics. Carville have been producing these calibration phantoms for many years, supplying some of the global leaders in this area including Varian, Elekta and the UK National Health Service (NHS) directly. As well as high precision CNC machining methods, we also make extensive use of gauges and Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMM) to ensure all our products are within the specifications agreed with our clients. Acrylic/Plexiglass (PMMA) material is often used as its properties make it complementary for these kinds of applications including its transparency. Other materials are also used such as polyester resin and polystyrene as their material properties have specific characteristics either to simulate human tissue or assist in the setting, calibration and targeting for certain forms of imaging and radiotherapy energy sources.
Embedded Parts in Quality Assurance Imaging Phantoms
Most medical phantoms, include very accurately located, embedded components within the block. These are often spheres of stainless steel or ceramic and Carville have experience manufacturing products with multiple embedded parts at various depths and positions. We also often engrave external markings on the phantoms to further aid calibration via visible light means. Carville are also able to diffusion bond components between layers with a high degree of accuracy, for example we manufacture a product used the by the NHS for mammography calibration that includes a small square of aluminium foil within it. Some phantoms also have cavities within them our clients fill with fluids to mimic human or animal organs.
Carville are happy to explore manufacturing feasibility with you if you have an idea for a medical phantom solution or are working on novel methods of imaging, therapy or research applications. Please get in contact to explore this.