Stereotactic radiosurgery, also called SRS, is a procedure dedicated to delivering precise, targeted doses of radiation to treat brain tumors. It is considered an alternative to surgery – and because it is minimally invasive, it helps to preserve healthy tissue surrounding a tumor.
How Is Stereotactic Radiosurgery Performed?
This procedure uses advanced imaging technologies, as well as sophisticated computer measures, to deliver an intense dose of radiation to the body. This process works by damaging the targeted cells’ DNA. After this has been done, the cells lose their ability to reproduce, resulting in shrinking of the tumor.
Despite its name, SRS is not a conventional surgery since there are no incisions involved. Patients do not require anesthesia during the procedure.
Before SRS, you will need to undergo imaging tests. The results will show exactly where the tumor or abnormality is. A treatment outline will be generated using the MRI or CT scans. Then, a computerized system will shape the radiation beam to create a three-dimensional outline of the tumor. Your radiosurgery team will also plan your treatment, including how precisely to focus the radiation beams during your treatment.
There are three types of technologies used to deliver the targeted radiation of SRS:
Gamma Knife Machines
Gamma knife machines use about 200 small beams of gamma rays to target brain abnormalities, whether these are cancerous or not. This type of machine is tailored for small to medium lesions and tumors in the brain. It also uses a frame that needs to be fitted around your head in order to help keep your head from moving during the procedure.
Linear Accelerator (LINAC) Machines
The LINAC, also known as TrueBeam or CyberKnife, uses high-energy X-rays shaped to conform to the tumor shape. LINAC is used to treat abnormal cells located throughout the body. LINAC is the most common method of delivering SRS.
Proton Beam Radiosurgery
One of the newest delivery methods of stereotactic radiosurgery involves a beam of protons (positively charged particles) rather than X-rays to target cancer cells.
Why Have Stereotactic Radiosurgery?
In the past, SRS has only been used to treat small and deep brain tumors. Due to technological advances, however, it can now address a broader array of health problems, even elsewhere in the body.
Professionals use this procedure to treat areas that are close to vital organs, are difficult to reach, or when tumors have spread to other parts of the body. Listed below are some conditions SRS has been used to treat:
- Cancer of the eye
- Pituitary tumors
- Deep brain tumors
- Arteriovenous malformations (AVM)
- Residual tumor cells, post-surgery
- Nervous system issues like trigeminal neuralgia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Tumors in the neck, head, prostate, spine, abdomen, lung, and liver
What Are the Risks of SRS?
Although SRS is not as risky as traditional surgery, you might still experience side effects or complications of the process. Some of these risks include:
- You might experience temporary fatigue or tiredness after the first few weeks of SRS.
- Scalp redness. There is also a chance your scalp may become red, sensitive, or irritated at the sites where you were treated.
- Swelling near the treatment site might lead to vomiting, headache, or nausea.
How Do You Prepare for SRS?
SRS is performed on an outpatient basis. Here are some tips that can help you prepare:
- Do not eat or drink anything past midnight prior to your treatment
- Inform your physician whether you are claustrophobic; allergic to intravenous iodine or contrast material; taking insulin or medication to control diabetes; or have a defibrillator, pacemaker, brain aneurysm clips, or eye or ear implants
- Remove any contact lenses, dentures, or eyeglasses before the treatment
- Do not wear jewelry, hair, or makeup products
Stereotactic Radiosurgery in Colorado
Here at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery, our providers treat a wide range of neurological conditions. We also make sure to provide the most exceptional care that will contribute to achieving the best possible outcome for your health. If you have any questions or concerns about stereotactic radiosurgery, call us now at (303) 790-1800 or request your appointment now.