Stereotactic radiosurgery is a non-invasive therapy that uses three-dimensional, computerized imaging to precisely deliver a targeted, highly-concentrated dose of radiation to an affected area of the brain. The technology allows surgeons to reach the deepest recesses of the brain and correct disorders not treatable with conventional surgery. Stereotactic radiosurgery is similar to other forms of radiation treatment in that it does not excise (remove) the tumor, but alters the DNA of the tumor cells, rending them unable to reproduce. Benign tumors typically shrink within two years; malignant and metastatic tumors may shrink more rapidly, within several months of treatment. In the case of AVMs, this form of radiation treatment causes the blood vessels to thicken and close off, thus reducing the potential for bleeding.
Stereotactic radiosurgery treatment involves the delivery of a single high dose or smaller, multiple doses of radiation to the specific area of the brain in which the tumor/abnormality is located. Using three-dimensional, computer-aided imaging software, stereotactic radiosurgery allows high doses of radiation to be delivered to the affected area with minimal exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue
There are three basic forms of stereotactic radiosurgery, - cobalt-60 (Gamma Knife), linear accelerator (LINAC/Cyber Knife) and particle beam (proton) - each of which incorporates a different mode of technology. The newer form of the technology used by Dr. Pearson allows for treatment without the use of a stereotactic frame.
Patients for whom this therapy may be recommended include those with:
Brain and Spine Tumors - Ususally metastatic brain tumors or low grade primary brain tumors such as meningiomas, schwannomas or pituitary adenomas
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) - a tangle of abnormally or poorly formed arteries and veins that have a higher rate of bleeding than normal vessels.
Trigeminal neuralgia - a disorder of the fifth cranial nerve that causes intense, electric shock-like pain in the facial areas the nerve serves: the jaw, lips, eyes, nose, scalp and forehead.
Please talk to your doctor about whether this treatment option is most appropriate for your specific condition, and rely on his or her judgment.
How Is This Therapy Administered?
Stereotactic radiosurgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis. You will not be put to sleep under general anesthesia; however, be prepared to spend up to 16 hours in the hospital. You also will need to have a family member or other support person accompany you, remain with you at the treatment facility and drive you home afterward.
Prior to treatment, please inform your doctor if you:
Are taking medication to control diabetes
Are allergic to contrast material, shellfish or iodine
Have a pacemaker, artificial heart valve, defibrillator, or any other type of implanted medical device
Are claustrophobic (fear closed-in spaces or the feeling of being confined)
Stereotactic radiosurgery treatment sessions are similar to those involved with receiving an X-ray, in that you will not be able to see, feel or hear the radiation beams. The treatment session should not be painful. If you experience any pain or discomfort from the way you're positioned, notify your doctor or technician.
How Long Will It Take Me To Recover?
After treatment, you may experience nausea and/or a headache, which can be allayed with medication.
Are There Any Potential Risks Or Complications?
As with any spinal/neurosurgical procedure, stereotactic radiosurgery involves certain risks. Potential risks and complications associated with stereotactic radiosurgery may include:
Local pain and swelling in the scalp
Skin reddening and irritation
Local loss of hair in superficial lesions
Local brain swelling in the treatment site
Local necrosis in the treatment site
Visual loss (very rare)
Deafness (very rare)