Frequently Asked Questions on CyberKnife®
Q. What is CyberKnife® Radiosurgery?
A. CyberKnife® radiosurgery is a special type of radiation treatment in which many beams of radiation are given from different positions outside the body to destroy a tumor or lesion inside the body. The total amount or radiation given to the lesion when the carefully aimed beams come together results in the lesion receiving a very high dose of radiation without damaging normal tissue in the area. CyberKnife® radiosurgery is used to treat several types of tumors or lesions in many parts of the body. The procedure is sometimes used in place of surgery or when other therapies cannot treat the lesion.
The CyberKnife® system uses a radiation machine (the source of radiation), a tracking system and a computer-controlled flexible robotic arm. The CyberKnife® system uses information from x-ray scans, bones and/or metal markers to figure out the exact shape and location of the lesion and decide exactly where and how to give the radiation. The tracking system and the computer work together to keep the radiation beams aimed at the lesion even if the patient moves a little. This image-guided technology keeps the beams accurate, staying within 1/50th of an inch of their target.
Q. What is CyberKnife® used to treat?
A. CyberKnife is used to treat benign and malignant tumors throughout the body, including metastatic disease, as well as vascular malformations and some functional disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia.
Brain: Benign and Malignant Tumors
- Vascular Malformations
- Acoustic Neuroma
- Pituitary Adenoma
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Orbital Tumors
Body: Primary and Metastatic
- Spine and Spinal Cord
- Head and Neck
Q. What are the benefits for patients?
A. CyberKnife® technology provides a number of advantages over traditional therapies, such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy:
- Minimizes the risk of complications associated with conventional therapies.
- Ability to treat tumors that were previously considered inoperable.
- Focused, maximum radiation to the tumor without affecting healthy tissue.
- Typically performed as an outpatient procedure, requiring no hospital stay.
- Lesions that have previously undergone the maximum allowed dose of radiation can be treated.
- Treatment is not painful.
- General anesthesia is not required.
- No scalpel. No blood loss.
- Shorter or no recovery periods.
- Fewer visits to the hospital, as treatment is completed in only 1-5 sessions.
- Eliminates the uncomfortable, invasive head frame required for other radiosurgery systems.
Ability to treat multiple tumors at differed locations during a single treatment.
Q. What makes CyberKnife® so unique?
A. No Invasive Frame: The ability of the CyberKnife® system to adjust for patient movement during treatment eliminates the pain and inconvenience of an invasive head frame. Instead, a custom mask of body mold is used to help the patient remain still.
Full Body Capability & Staged Treatment: The unique design of the CyberKnife® system allows it to deliver radiation to tumors or lesions throughout the body. In addition, the CyberKnife® system can perform “hypo-fractionated” or staged-radiosurgery. This means that total radiation doses is given in 2-5 treatments, giving part of the dose with each treatment. This is especially helpful in treating larger tumors or lesions near sensitive structures because it better protects healthy tissue in the area.
Q. How is the CyberKnife® Different From Other Stereotactic Radiosurgery Systems?
A. First, the CyberKnife® system uses the combination of a robotic arm, linear accelerator and image guidance technology. Because of the flexibility of the robotic arm, the system is able to reach areas of the body that are unreachable by other radiosurgery systems.
Second, the CyberKnife® is able to locate the position of the tumor within the body without the use of an invasive head frame.
Third, the CyberKnife® monitors and compensates for patient movement during treatment, constantly ensuring accurate targeting.
Q. What’s It Like For The Patient?
A. During a typical treatment session, the patient lies on a table and wears a custom-fit mesh facemask or body immobilizer while the robotic arm delivers the radiation. Unlike conventional surgery, CyberKnife® procedures don’t require anesthesia, large incisions or blood loss.