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How CyberKnife® Works

The CyberKnife at NDC offers a revolutionary new treatment for destroying harmful tumors that does not require surgery or anesthesia and lets the patient go home immediately afterwards. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, similar to the technology developed to guide cruise missiles to their target, CyberKnife delivers precise, highly focused radiation to tumors in the brain, spine and elsewhere in the body with sub-millimeter accuracy. Pinpoint accuracy allows our physician team to treat even the most difficult to reach cancerous or benign tumors, as well as abnormal tangles of blood vessels in the brain, while avoiding damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

 

Targeted Beams of Radiation Destroy Cancer Cells
During the CyberKnife procedure, fifty to several hundred or more concentrated beams of radiation are administered from different targeting angles using a linear accelerator (LINAC) mounted on a robotic arm. All of the radiation beams intersect within a tumor or lesion with pinpoint accuracy. The cumulative radiation dose delivered to the tumor or lesion is high enough to destroy the cancer cells and stop the growth of active tissue.During the entire treatment the location of the tumor is continuously monitored using X-rays and image-guided cameras. These images are instantly compared to the radiography produced from the initial CT scan, allowing the robotic system to reposition the radiation source before the delivery of each beam. CyberKnife's advanced robotic system delivers radiation so precisely that it can stay on target even if a patient breathes or moves during treatment.

Unparalleled Precision and Patient Comfort
With its high precision and accuracy, the CyberKnife system can achieve a surgical-like outcome, without surgery. It's a painless outpatient procedure without the risk and complications associated with conventional surgery. The actual CyberKnife procedure usually takes about an hour. Depending on the condition being treated and size of the tumor or abnormality, there can be more than one treatment session. Following treatment, the patient goes home, with no need for recovery time.

History of this Revolutionary Technology
For more than 30 years, physicians have been using stereotactic radiosurgery to destroy tumors in the brain. While the procedure does not remove a tumor, it can destroy tumor cells or stop growth of active tissue.

In stereotactic radiosurgery, high dose focused radiation beams are fired into a tumor from many angles. With older systems, such as the Gamma Knife, a metal frame is screwed into the patient’s head to immobilize the patient during treatment. Wearing this head frame is uncomfortable and limits the potential application of the Gamma Knife to single treatments, used against lesions within the brain or skull base.

A Frameless Alternative
CyberKnife offers all of the advantages of radiosurgery, but without the need for a metal head frame. Instead, patients are fitted with a more comfortable flexible mesh mask for tumors in the head, or a body cradle for spinal tumors or other tumors outside the head. Because the robotic arm automatically corrects for patient movement during treatment, the CyberKnife can be used anywhere in the body where radiation is effective.

CyberKnife was developed by a team of physicians, physicists and engineers at Stanford University. The CyberKnife technology was cleared by the FDA for intercranial applications in August 1999, and received full-body clearance in August, 2001. As of December 2010, the CyberKnife has been used to treat more than 100,000 patients worldwide.