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Stereotactic Radiosurgery FAQs

Q: Am I a candidate for advanced stereotactic radiosurgery?
A: This treatment offers doctors the ability to treat a range of indications, including benign and malignant brain tumors; metastatic tumors or recurrent brain tumors; functional brain disorders; and tumors of the head and neck, lung, liver, prostate and spine. Other conditions that can be treated include:

It’s important to talk with your doctor. Not all patients are candidates for this treatment. Your doctor may refer you to a neurosurgeon or radiation oncologist for an evaluation.

Before deciding on a treatment plan, a team of physicians will review your medical history. All available treatment options are considered and the choice of treatment will depend on your particular diagnosis, the tumor or lesion size and location, and your treatment preferences. The decision process may lead to a combination of several different treatment options, including Stereotactic Radiosurgery.

Q: What can I expect during treatment?
A: Before treatment begins, doctors use sophisticated computerized software to develop a customized treatment plan specially adapted to your needs. 

The entire procedure, including frame placement if needed (placing a metal head frame to hold a patient’s head in a fixed position during treatment), treatment planning and radiation delivery, takes less than half a day. On the day of your appointment, dress comfortably. You may bring a friend or relative with you. However, during the frame placement and radiation delivery, your companion will have to leave the treatment room.

If fractionated treatment is recommended, treatment planning is accomplished on the first day, with briefer follow-up sessions occurring on subsequent days.

The actual radiation delivery typically takes less than 30 minutes.  The beam shaping system steadily moves around your body so that the radiation can penetrate the tumor or lesion from different angles. While the tumor or lesion receives the full dose of radiation, the surrounding healthy tissue is protected from the radiation, reducing potential damage to delicate structures such as your brainstem or spinal cord. Patients remain awake throughout the entire procedure.

Driving is not recommended after treatment, so it’s important to arrange for transportation home ahead of time.

Common side effects may include headache and dizziness. Be sure to ask your physician about other possible side effects and complications.

Q: What are the benefits of advanced stereotactic radiosurgery?
A: The treatment offers pinpoint precision to target radiation treatment on tumors or lesions close to critical structures within the body. It is considered a viable option for patients who cannot undergo traditional surgery because of illnesses, tumors that are located in inoperable areas, or an increased risk of harming critical structures near the tumor. Other advantages include:

  • High-energy radiation beams are shaped to match the exact contour of the tumor or lesion, so that even irregularly shaped tumors or lesions receive an even distribution of the prescribed radiation dose
  • Treatment minimizes damage to the surrounding normal tissue
  • Therapy is minimally invasive without incisions or scars
  • Treatment is virtually painless and usually performed on an outpatient basis
  • A complete treatment session typically occurs in a single day

For More Information

Contact the Division of Neurosurgery at 847.570.1440 or the Department of Radiation Oncology at 847.570.2590.