Willis-Knighton Health System is one of the largest hospitals in the South, with an inpatient capacity of 1120 beds and over 55,000 annual admissions. Located in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, USA, it is a tertiary referral hospital. With a leadership position in the adoption of highly advanced radiation technologies, Willis-Knighton Health System has seen uninterrupted growth in the areas of clinical research, oncology advancements, and personnel training and development.
Willis-Knighton Radiation Oncology introduced high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy in 1997. The department continued to offer both low dose rate and high dose rate brachytherapy approaches until full conversion to HDR in 2012. The medical director of radiation oncology, Lane R. Rosen, M.D. initiated the HDR brachytherapy program and has offered gynecologic, gastrointestinal, endobronchial, skin, and breast brachytherapy to patients since the program’s initial development. CT-based treatment planning has been performed routinely since 2004. An MRI-based planning will be introduced in 2016 with side by side CT and MRI simulators.
Willis-Knighton Radiation Oncology has an extensive brachytherapy service with a special focus on gynecologic and breast malignancies. A vendor sponsored gynecologic brachytherapy course is taught on site with visitors from around the country. All forums of brachytherapy including intracavitary, interstitial, topical, are offered in the department. The radiation center has an impressive brachytherapy suite with an in-room compact self-shielded CT scanner as well as an on-site C-arm for fluoroscopy guidance. A dedicated brachytherapy team of five full-time radiation oncologists and five PhD or Masters level medical physicists and medical physics residents assist the physicians in offering advanced care. Between 250 and 350 patients yearly receive brachytherapy treatment at Willis-Knighton using HDR brachytherapy. The department also has a low dose rate prostate brachytherapy service and offers infusional brachytherapy for metastatic prostate cancer and liver metastasis. The center is recognized regionally as a center of expertise with referrals often sent for brachytherapy to complete a course of treatment.
Since 2013, Willis-Knighton Radiation Oncology has been a designated scholarship site for the American Brachytherapy Society in the education and training of high dose brachytherapy techniques. The week long course offers both hands on experience and didactic lectures from a physician and physics perspective. Training visits to the hospital have also been arranged through vendor relationships to observe endobronchial, partial breast, topical and gynecologic procedures. Willis-Knighton has participated in the American Brachytherapy Society program for 3 years. Medical students and visiting physicians also have an opportunity to observe clinical workflow and brachytherapy practices firsthand. In addition to workshops, Willis-Knighton has developed novel approaches for the treatment of complex brachytherapy procedures often without the use of general anesthesia or conscious sedation with favorable patient outcomes and satisfaction rates.
The department offers an opportunity to see the integration of high dose rate brachytherapy with other advanced radiation technologies such as IMRT and image-guided proton therapy. Having an on-site medical physics training program allows for comparative planning not often available in a typical community cancer center.