Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a very precise form of radiation therapy that uses multiple radiation beams to treat abnormalities in the brain and spine.
Unlike traditional surgery, SRS does not involve making an incision or opening in the body. Guided by 3D imaging, high doses of radiation are directed to the target area with minimal impact on the surrounding healthy tissue.
Because SRS delivers radiation at much higher doses with greater precision, it requires only a single or fewer (usually 3 - 5) treatments than traditional radiation therapy.
During the procedure, the radiation beams are aimed at the tumour from many different points, which allows for a more accurate delivery of radiation.
It is usually given in 6 – 25 doses called fractions. A single fraction of this therapy is called radiosurgery.
Stereotactic radiosurgery works just like other forms of radiation by destroying or damaging the targeted cells' DNA. This affects the abnormal cells' reproduction ability, causing these tumors to become inactive and shrink.
The difference between stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiotherapy has to do with the intensity and duration of the radiation treatments.
In stereotactic radiosurgery, radiation is delivered at a very high intensity, in one single dose, to a small area.
In stereotactic radiotherapy, radiation is delivered at different times, at lower intensities to larger areas. This allows the healthy tissues time to recover between treatment sessions.
Gamma knife radiosurgery is also a form of stereotactic radiosurgery but specifically treats conditions of the brain and head. Like other forms of SRS, there is no incision but uses specialised equipment to focus tiny beams of radiation on the targeted area.
Gamma knife radiosurgery is usually a one-time therapy completed in a single day.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is used to treat neurological conditions such as:
Stereotactic radiosurgery offers the following benefits:
Stereotactic radiosurgery is generally less risky than traditional surgery as there are no incisions or cutting.
Any early complications or side effects are usually temporary. In rare cases, people may experience belated side effects. This may occur months after treatment and varies depending on the body site.
Anti-inflammatory medications (corticosteroid medications) may be prescribed to prevent such problems or to treat symptoms if they appear.
Your doctor will discuss the potential risks more thoroughly with you.
Early complications or side effects will depend on which part of your body is treated. They include:
Belated side effects may include: