What is stereotactic radiosurgery?

Stereotactic radiosurgery involves using high-powered radiation beams to target tumours affecting the brain, spine, lungs, neck and liver. Stereotactic radiosurgery is not considered a typical surgical procedure since no incision is made. However, like any other form of radiation therapy, the beams of radiation used during stereotactic therapy target the DNA of the affected cells. By damaging the DNA of the cancerous cells, the cells cannot multiply at an alarming rate as they did before, and therefore, the tumour cannot grow. Instead, the tumour shrinks, and the blood supply to the tumour is cut off.

Stereotactic radiosurgery can be done for the following reasons:

  • The presence of brain tumours
    can be treated by means of a Gamma knife, a form of stereotactic radiosurgery that relies on computer guidance and radiation therapy.
  • Arteriovenous malformations
    consist of tangles of veins and arteries in the brain. Arteriovenous malformations affect the natural flow of blood, which can lead to bleeding or stroke. Stereotactic radiosurgery works by using radiation to seal the affected blood vessels.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
    is a disorder affecting the trigeminal nerves, causing facial pain. Stereotactic radiosurgery involves directing radiation at the nerve roots to disrupt pain signals.

How do you perform stereotactic radiosurgery?

Stereotactic radiosurgery and radiotherapy work similarly as high-powered radiation beams are directed toward the cancerous region. As a result, your oncologist can deliver radiation to a localised area, which helps shrink the tumour. Fortunately, during stereotactic radiosurgery, the radiation beams are delivered precisely, which means there is minimal damage to nearby healthy tissue.

What is the outlook like after the procedure?

You can expect lethargy for several weeks after stereotactic radiosurgery. However, healthy cells that are injured during radiation therapy rejuvenate within several months after treatment. Sometimes, the aftereffects of surgery may show up much later, within months or years after the treatment. These side effects are referred to as late effects.


Who is eligible for stereotactic radiosurgery?

Patients with small brain tumours are eligible for surgery.


How many times is stereotactic radiation delivered?

1-8 treatment sessions, depending on the cancer type and radiation dose. Typically, it takes thirty minutes to deliver radiation to one tumour or lesion.


Is the procedure painful?

General anaesthesia isn’t required because the procedure does not involve creating any incisions.

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