Stereotactic Radiosurgery or CyberKnife

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What is Stereotactic Radiosurgery?

CyberKnife is a brand name for a device and it is a robotic radiosurgery system which delivers stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). This is an image-guided technique of delivering high doses of radiation with extreme accuracy. Although it contains the word “knife” there is no knife or incision involved. 

Stereotactic radiosurgery damages the DNA of the targeted cells. Therefore the affected cells lose the ability to reproduce, which causes the tumors to shrink. The purpose is to kill cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy tissues and organs. This non-invasive treatment uses high doses of radiation with high accuracy, to treat tumors in the brain, neck, lungs, liver, spine, prostate, pancreas and other parts of the body. This does not need extensive sessions but only a couple of sessions. 

The Cost stereotactic radiosurgery in India ranges from USD 7000 to 12000 depending on the type of cancer.

What are the Benefits of Stereotactic Radiosurgery?

There are a few benefits of stereotactic radiosurgery or CyberKnife when compared to other treatments:

  • There’s no incision or pain involved.
  • There’s no need for anaesthesia or a hospital stay.
  • You can return to your normal activities.
  • Less time-consuming compared to conventional radiation or chemotherapy. SBRT takes a few days , whereas conventional radiation therapy takes as long as eight or nine weeks to complete.
  • There’s no extended recovery period.

Not all cancers benefit from cyberknife radiation. 

Which Conditions can be Treated by Stereotactic Radiosurgery?

The stereotactic radiosurgery treats a variety of neurological and other conditions, including:

  • Brain tumor – Stereotactic radiosurgery is often used to treat noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) brain tumors, including meningioma, paraganglioma, hemangioblastoma and craniopharyngioma.
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – Abnormal tangles of arteries and veins in your brain is called AVM. The normal flow of blood is disrupted in AVM and leads to bleeding (hemorrhage) or stroke. Stereotactic radiosurgery destroys the AVM and the affected blood vessels would be closed over a period of time.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia – Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain disorder of the trigeminal nerves. This nerve disorder causes extreme facial pain that feels like an electric shock but Stereotactic radiosurgery neuralgia targets the nerve root to disrupt these pain signals.
  • Acoustic neuroma – This is a noncancerous tumor which leads from your inner ear to your brain. In this condition a person can experience hearing loss, dizziness, loss of balance and ringing in the ear (tinnitus). Stereotactic radiosurgery may stop the growth or minimize the size of an acoustic neuroma without permanent nerve damage.
  • Pituitary tumors – This is a tumor at the base of the brain (pituitary gland). Stereotactic radiosurgery is used to shrink the tumor and minimise the disruption of pituitary hormone regulation.
  • Tremors – Stereotactic radiosurgery is used to treat tremors associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. 
  • Other cancers – Stereotactic radiosurgery is used for liver cancer, lung cancer and spine cancer.

What happens during Stereotactic Radiosurgery or CyberKnife?

Step 1 – You’ll be placed in the proper position on a table. Then, a computer-controlled robot will move slowly around the table, which focuses many small beams of radiation on a tumor or other target. 

Step 2 – The software will adjust radiation for your breathing pattern and any movement of the tumor. The high dose of radiation delivered to the affected area causes the tumors to shrink and blood vessels would be closed over a period of time, disrupting the blood supply to the tumor.

Step 3 – The precision of stereotactic radiosurgery means there’s minimal damage to the healthy surrounding tissues.

This is a non-invasive, painless procedure. Each session will last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. Once it’s over, you should be able to get up and resume your normal activities right away.

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