What is the DICTC?
Howdy Ags! I hope everyone’s semester is going well! I can’t
believe the semester is almost over. Only a few weeks left and then
we are finished! Yay!
On another note, I want to tell you about the Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer
Treatment Center, or DICTC, which is located between the small
and large animal hospitals here at the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. A few weeks ago, I
was lucky enough to take a tour of this amazing facility.
Unfortunately, as ambassadors we can’t take the public into the
facility due to the use of radioactive material in administering
radiation treatments for our cancer patients, so I wanted to give
you some information about what goes on under the roof of the
The DICTC houses 3 major machines. The first is a Tomotherapy
unit, an amazing machine used to treat cancer. The college is lucky
enough to house the only Tomotherapy unit in the nation big enough
for use on large animals. It is also one of only two in the nation
based within an academic veterinary teaching hospital. Through the
use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with the
precision of the CT scanner, clinicians are able to map and plan
the correct radiation treatment for each patient. The CT
images used in IMRT help the clinical team more accurately define
the boundaries of the tumor. The benefit of IMRT is that it
administers a maximum amount of radiation to the cancer cells while
preserving healthy cells.
The next machine the DICTC houses is a CT scanner. With this
machine, clinicians are able to image animals weighing from only a
few ounces up to 2,000 pounds. When I was taking my tour, the
technician told us that she will image anything that will fit in
the machine. She also told us that the machine is very quick, and
she has taken a CT scan of a cat in about eight seconds. So if a
clinician needs a quick answer about what may be wrong with the
patient, this is the machine of choice!
The last machine the DICTC houses is a 3-Tesla MRI unit. Unlike
the CT scanner, the MRI unit does not use radiation and provides a
greater contrast between soft tissues in the body. The MRI unit
takes a lot longer than the CT scanner, but is often the machine of
choice if the clinician and patient don’t need a quick answer and
are looking at soft tissues. As I said previously, the MRI unit has
a 3 Tesla magnet. This magnet stays on all the time and is two
times stronger than the one used for humans (human hospitals
normally use a 1.5 Tesla MRI unit). This means that the image
quality produced is VERY good and it allows clinicians to more
accurately pinpoint affected areas for surgical interventions.
As you can see, the DICTC is a remarkable facility! Many people
do not know we house all of those machines under one roof, but we
do! It has been of great benefit to our patients here at the small
and large animal hospitals and to our clinicians as they continue
to provide world-class treatment to those animals!