A concrete-shielded pit in the basement of St. Louis' Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital of the Washington University Medical Center holds a basic tool of physics that someday may be equally essential to experimental and clinical medicine.
This first hospital-based cyclotron in the United States has been in operation for about 18 months. The need for new and shorter-lived isotopes means that more medical institutions will install cyclotrons in the future, predicts Michel M. Ter-Pogossian, PhD, Washington University professor of radiation physics.A second cyclotron, in fact, will soon be installed at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. A number of other institutions, including Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, have plans for cyclotron installations. At least three commercial firms now build and install cyclotrons specifically designed for biomedical use. Costs range from about $200,000 to $300,000.Cyclotrons and other accelerators have been used for many years to produce long-lived