Within the last decade, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) has come a long way. This external-beam radiation therapy can precisely target small areas within the body. It was initially developed for the brain but is now used to shrink or slow the growth of tumors in other parts of the body, as well. We use stereotactic radiosurgery when possible at Texas Neurosurgery.
What is the procedure with SRS?
The amazing thing about using SRS is that the procedure doesn’t involve any incisions. It is non-invasive. During the treatment, the patient lies on his or her side on a table. The table then is moved into the machine that delivers the radiation. There are three types of machines used for SRS: a Gamma Knife® unit, a linear accelerator, and a cyclotron.
When applicable, a contrast agent is given to the patient to make the tumor more visible. Then, three-dimensional imaging — a CT, MRI, or PET/CT scan — is used to locate the tumor and to determine its shape and size. A head frame or individual body mold is used to limit the patient’s movements, so the radiation hits the targeted area only. Next, a high dose of radiation is precisely delivered onto the tumor. Each session lasts just 30 minutes to one hour; treatment may include up to five sessions.
What are the risks of SRS?
The SRS procedure is very precise, but there is a risk of damaging surrounding healthy tissue. When used on brain tumors, swelling of the brain, called brain edema, can occur. This is usually temporary. Other serious complications may include seizures following treatment, a possible regrowth of the targeted tumor, or development of secondary cancer.
These are the more common side effects of SRS treatment:
- Redness, blistering, or peeling of the skin
- Hair loss at the site
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
Still, due to its non-invasiveness, patients can return home immediately following their treatment, and they can usually return to work the next day.
We’re excited about the continuing advances of stereotactic radiosurgery at Texas Neurosurgery. To make an appointment, call us at 214-823-2052.