Radiosurgery is a cutting-edge treatment technique that uses high doses of radiation precisely delivered to a target area to destroy tissue in that area while leaving the tissue in the surrounding area unaffected. Although the term “radiosurgery” implies an incision is made for this treatment, radiosurgery is noninvasive, which means there are no incisions, and the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. The technique was designed to combine the precise surgical techniques of neurosurgery with the technical and noninvasive treatment benefits of radiation. Sometimes, radiosurgery is referred to as “CyberKnife” or “GammaKnife” surgery, which are the names of two leading systems used to perform the technique. Radiosurgery uses medical robotics to deliver radiation at very precise levels with an extremely high degree of accuracy, and each treatment is customized for the specific patient’s needs, condition and anatomy for optimal results.
Radiosurgery can be used to treat an array of conditions, including tumors, vascular malformations like Chiari malformations, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), and areas of brain tissue responsible for seizures, tremors or pain. Radiosurgery isn’t ideal for all patients, and it’s usually reserved for those who:
To achieve its high levels of precision and accuracy, radiosurgery begins with a custom “mold” of the patient’s head, followed by specialized imaging to obtain detailed pictures of the area being treated. CT scans, MRI, angiography and PET imaging, may all be used, and often multiple imaging tests are performed to provide additional detail when needed. The mold and imaging tests typically are performed the day before the procedure to enable the medical team to “map out” the treatment in advance using three-dimensional computerized models. Once planning is complete, the patient returns for treatment. Depending on the location and size of the lesion and other factors, from one to five treatments may be needed.