Advancing Through Research

Timmerie F. Cohen, Ph.D., R.T.(R)(T), CMD
Mar. 30, 2017

Timmerie CohenA donor-supported research grant from the ASRT Foundation allowed Jeffrey S. Legg, Ph.D., R.T.(R)(CT)(QM); Melanie C. Dempsey, M.S., R.T.(R)(T), CMD, FAAMD; and me to conduct a research project that is moving the profession forward and helping reduce radiation dose to patients.

After receiving the grant in May 2014, we launched our study, which focused on the effect of vertical off-centering during computed tomography simulations of breast tissue exposure in patients undergoing accelerated partial breast irradiation. To test the effect of an error in patient positioning on breast dose, we placed dosimeters in an anthropomorphic model’s breast tissue. The complete results of our study were published in the fall 2015 issue of Radiation Therapist. It was called out as the publication’s best peer-reviewed article for 2015, earning us the Harold Silverman Distinguished Author Award.

More important, research like ours helps R.T.s provide a higher level of patient care, and it would have been difficult to do the research without the grant from the Foundation and its generous donors. We completed our research in 2015 and provided our recommendations to radiation oncology departments. The ultimate goal is to reduce the radiation dose to healthy tissue. The recommendations included:

  • Optimizing the scan range.
  • Modulating the tube current.
  • Using ultrasonography to replace certain procedures.
  • Properly centering patients.

This new information also provided evidence that simulation techniques can affect dose to sensitive tissues.

To advance the medical imaging and radiation therapy profession, we must constantly evaluate our methods and ask ourselves how we can improve. As a community, we must strive to keep the radiologic sciences strong by constantly growing the profession’s body of knowledge.

Foundation donors aren’t just funding research, they’re ensuring that these studies are done by medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals. No one knows our work better than we do — the R.T.s who do it every day — and we’re the ones who will use the research to improve patient care.

Timmerie Cohen is assistant professor and clinical coordinator of radiation therapy for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Allied Health Professions in Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Cohen has been an ASRT member since 1997. This article was originally published in ASRT Scanner, Vol. 49, No. 2, Page 20.