Algorithms for Radiotherapy: Visualization and Planning of Radiation
An international medical technology company intended to expand its software for radiotherapy by a radiation planning feature. The goal was to provide the user with the possibility to automatically define the radiation area based on algorithms. Method Park consulted the company on the selection of an appropriate development approach and supported it throughout the introduction of necessary methods and techniques, and the implementation of the software development. The concrete implementation took place within a larger project to which a total of four Method Park Software Engineers contributed.
Incorrectly focused or excessive radiation with x-rays can cause serious harm for the patient, such as burn injuries or organ failure. During the planning phase, it is important that the software users can precisely pinpoint the areas for radiation. Besides the automated treatment planning, additional algorithms were required for visualization. The treatment planning is based on a segmentation of the tumor from the organs, which have to be protected from the radiation. The user can also manually correct or reorient the radiation area if no organ segmentation is available, or if the available segmentation is suboptimal. In most cases, tumor patients receive multiple radiation treatments. To avoid an excess of the recommended maximum radiation dose for the respective tissue, the visualization of radiation applied in previous therapies was also required.
During the treatment, the shape of the radiated area is controlled by metal plates which partially absorb radiation. The device which forms such a focused ray is called a collimator. One of the biggest technical challenges in this project were the numerous individual physical collimator configurations and their limitations. Excellent communication skills of Method Park engineers were required, since the developed algorithms were integrated in the end products at foreign company locations.
Duration of the subproject
Approx. 1 year
1 Software Engineer (C++, C++/CLI, C#)
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Together with Method Park, the company decided to introduce agile development methods into this project. The project team developed all functional and non-functional requirements for the needed algorithms and their implementation with Kanban. This enabled the team to include short-term change requests into design and development. According to their functionalities, algorithms are divided into independent components. These individual components can be easily re-used in future.
To avoid potential pitfalls in C++ development, the project team applied modern techniques, such as the RAII pattern, which were complemented with Test Driven Development and detailed quality assurance measures, such as static code analysis, profiling and extensive testing.
Agile development measures
Test Driven Development
Modern, tested and re-usable C++ code
With the experience of Method Park, particularly in agile development and the medical technology environment, the project team was able to develop the required features in high quality. This was within the agreed period and compliant to all relevant regulations and customer processes. Due to the modular structure of source code, the customer can make changes in future quickly and easy, re-use individual subcomponents or expand the existing functionality with limited additional effort.
Software users benefit from a stable and integrated radiation planning environment, while affected patients benefit from the quick and reliable treatment.
Implementation of all required features within the agreed period
Intuitive usability by visualization
High-quality and standard-compliant solution
No radiation of organs at risk
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