Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Precise, High-Dose Radiation Treatments

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Stereotactic radiosurgery treats small tumors and abnormalities in the brain and body by delivering high doses of radiation to precisely targeted areas. Stereotactic radiosurgery shortens overall radiation treatment time and minimizes damage to surrounding healthy tissue when compared to whole brain radiation therapy, which is another option for treating brain tumors. This is especially important for tumors located close to critical structures, such as the brain stem and optic nerves.

More than 400 of these complex procedures are performed at Duke each year. We use this advanced technology to treat people with tumors that may be hard to reach through surgery and who may be turned down for treatment at other centers.

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About Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery relies on 3-D imaging to locate the tumor and precisely define its size and shape. Doctors use these images to target the area to be treated and plan the treatment, including how many doses are needed. The high-energy X-rays are delivered through a linear accelerator, which provides the highest level of precision, speed, and patient comfort. Imaging takes place during treatment; your position is adjusted to ensure you are in exactly the correct position throughout delivery of the radiation.

Maximizing Your Comfort
Staying immobile during the procedure is very important to ensure the precise delivery of the treatment. Hospitals that use the Gamma Knife to perform radiosurgery keep patients immobile by pinning a head frame to the skull. At Duke, we use a different device to perform most stereotactic radiosurgery. Instead of pinning a head frame to your skull, a custom-molded plastic mask is used to immobilize your head, which maximizes your comfort.

Scheduled in Combination with Other Treatments
One of the benefits of stereotactic radiosurgery is that it can be timed in between or during cycles of chemotherapy. This minimizes delay of other effective treatments that are part of your treatment plan.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
Stereotactic radiosurgery used for body areas outside the brain is called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). It can be used to treat spine, lung, and liver tumors.

The Stereotactic Radiosurgery Process

Initial Consultation

You and your family will meet with a radiation oncologist who will review the specific benefits of using this treatment for your condition. He/she will explain how stereotactic radiosurgery fits into your overall treatment plan and will review the potential side effects.

Planning Session

One planning session will take place before the actual treatment. If you are being treated for a brain tumor, a customized plastic mask will be created to hold your head in position. The type of immobilization used depends on the location and the reason for treatment. CT and MRI scans will aid in the planning process.

Treatment Sessions

The number of treatment sessions can range from one to five. Treatment sessions run about 45 minutes but may be longer, depending on the size and number of tumors treated.

Our Locations

Stereotactic radiosurgery treatments are available at two Duke locations.

Why Choose Duke

Personalized Care
We give you the care and support you need to achieve the best possible outcome. We take the time to answer all your questions and include your family in discussions about your planning and treatments.
 
Extra Assistance if You're Traveling to Duke
People who travel to Duke from out of the area will work with a stereotactic radiosurgery coordinator who will arrange the process so that it can be completed in two visits over the course of one or two weeks. We talk with you before you arrive to make sure that you understand the process and that Duke providers have the information they need to coordinate treatment. 
 
Our Expert Team
A team of specialists will be involved in your care every step of the way. You may interact with one or more of the following team members.
  • Radiation oncologists -- Use radiation to treat cancer and other conditions
  • Neurosurgeons -- Use surgery and radiosurgery to treat brain and spine disease
  • Radiation physicists and dosimetrists -- Help the radiation oncologists plan the treatment and perform quality assurance on all plans 
  • Radiation therapists -- Administer the treatments 
  • Nurses (RN and/or nurse practitioners) -- Provide care during radiation treatments
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Safety and Quality Assurance
We perform extensive quality assurance checks to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of each and every treatment.

Expertise and Experience
Our skill and training enable us to treat people who are sometimes turned away at other hospitals because their tumors are too large, too numerous, too rare, or too complex.

Clinical Trial Access
You may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial that is testing new radiation therapies and techniques, as well as novel drugs in combination with radiotherapy.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

In addition to being one of the best in the country, Duke University Hospital is proud to be nationally ranked in 11 adult and nine pediatric specialties.
Reviewed: 10/30/2018