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For more information on CyberKnife at NCH, call 847.618.6568

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)?

Stereotactic Radiosurgery, which has been used for 30 years, is a non-invasive (non-surgical) treatment in which high doses of focused radiation beams are delivered from multiple locations outside the body to destroy a tumor or lesion within the body while sparing healthy tissues. The procedure does not remove the tumor or lesion. Instead, it destroys tumor cells or stops the growth of active, abnormal tissue.

Is CyberKnife Stereotactic Radiosurgery a surgical procedure?

Despite its name, the CyberKnife System does not use a knife; there is no incision, no pain and no blood loss. Yet, with its high precision and accuracy, the CyberKnife System can achieve a surgical-like outcome. Tumors, even those previously diagnosed as untreatable, can be effectively radiated, without the pain, risks and complications associated with conventional surgery.

How is CyberKnife different from other stereotactic radiosurgery systems?

CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery is a frameless system, with a computer-controlled robotic arm that provides access to tumors and lesions unreachable by most other stereotactic radiosurgery systems. CyberKnife's unique maneuverability allows for the widest range of treatment options and the greatest level of patient comfort.

Traditional stereotactic systems, including the Gamma Knife, rely on a rigid metal frame anchored to a patient's skull for head immobilization and target localization. Such frame-based systems have numerous limitations:

  • Restrict treatment to the brain area only
  • Limit the possible angles from which radiation can be delivered
  • Cause considerable discomfort for the patient when the frame is bolted into the skull and while it remains in place during planning and throughout treatment

What makes the CyberKnife System unique?

  • Accuracy. Radiation is delivered with such precision (within a hair's width), tumors can be treated without harming surrounding tissue.
  • Flexibility. Unsurpassed maneuverability enables radiation to be delivered from unlimited positions so tumors can be treated anywhere, from any angle.
  • Robotics. The system tracks tumor position, detects tumor or patient movement, and automatically self-corrects.
  • Versatility. Tumors diagnosed as inoperable, untreatable or surgically complex can now be treated through this revolutionary pain-free, non-invasive alternative.

What conditions can be treated with the CyberKnife System?

CyberKnife can treat cancerous and non-cancerous tumors and lesions throughout the body, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Tumors in the brain, lung, neck, liver, kidney, pancreas, prostate, pelvic organs and spine, including those previously diagnosed as inoperable or untreatable
  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Blood vessel malformations
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

What is a CyberKnife procedure like for the patient?

During a typical treatment session, the patient lies on a table and wears a comfortable, custom-fit mesh facemask or body immobilizer while the robotic arm delivers the radiation. Unlike conventional surgery, CyberKnife procedures do not require anesthesia, incisions or blood loss. Most treatments last about 30 to 90 minutes per lesion. The patient can go home the same day.

Is the procedure safe?

The CyberKnife System delivers powerful doses of radiation with extreme precision, sparing healthy tissues surrounding the targeted areas. Because incisions are not required, the risks involved with open surgery, such as hemorrhage or infection, are significantly reduced. Hospitalization and recovery time are minimal. While individual outcomes may vary, patients may resume their normal lifestyle the next day.

Is CyberKnife Radiosurgery cost effective?

Cost studies have shown radiosurgery to be less expensive than conventional surgery because it eliminates lengthy post-surgical hospital stays, expensive medication and even months of rehabilitation. Radiosurgery is reimbursed by most insurance companies and Medicare.

How can I find out if CyberKnife Radiosurgery is an option for me?

Patients should talk to a physician to determine if CyberKnife is a viable treatment option. For more information about the CyberKnife Radiosurgery System at Northwest Community Hospital, call 847.618.6568.

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Last Updated 08/04/2009