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Stereotactic radiosurgery treats previously inoperable tumors

Treating previously inoperable brain and spine tumors is possible with the stereotactic radiosurgery system available at the Baptist Health Radiation Center.

The center has added the Novalis Shaped Beam Surgery System to its arsenal of high-technology equipment and techniques such as intensity-modulated and image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT and IGRT). The beauty of the new minimally-invasive system is its ability to accurately deliver high radiation doses to small and even hard-to-reach tumor areas, while sparing nearby healthy tissue.

This is an outpatient brain and spine tumor technique frequently accomplished in less than one hour, allowing treatment of otherwise untreatable disease.

Treating benign and malignant brain tumors is just one application for the stereotactic radiosurgery machine. It also provides an important treatment option for specialists to treat lesions in the spine, lungs, liver or prostate, as well as to treat intractable facial pain and arterial venous malformations in the head (abnormal collections of enlarged blood vessels).

While it’s called radiosurgery, there are no surgical instruments and the procedure is not invasive. But, it’s referred to as a surgery for its ability to have such a dramatic effect on the targeted tumor, distorting the DNA of the tumor’s cells so they are unable to reproduce.

During treatment the shape of the beam is matched to the size and shape of the patient’s tumor or lesion. Because it’s so precise, a single high dose of radiation may be given in a one-day session. Or, radiation may be given over a period of a few days (stereotactic radiotherapy), depending on what’s best for the patient.

The mechanical exactness of the equipment makes it possible to pinpoint and target tumors with sub-millimeter accuracy. To achieve this precision, information from CT and MRI imaging data can be used to create a three-dimensional model of the tumor and the normal tissues surrounding it. 

The image-guided technology, in conjunction with the robotic table, can position the patient to within 0.02 inches of the intended location – about the thickness of a thin piece of cardboard. Because of this precision, the dose to the tumor can be escalated with even greater sparing of radiation to critical brain or spinal structures than can be achieved with conventional radiotherapy techniques.

Novalis is a new technology that may forever change how you view treatment options and cancer care. To learn more, please click on the word that best describes you.

For more information, or for a physician referral, call the Baptist Health Information Center at (502) 897-8131.