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Stereotactic Radiosurgery: A beam of hope

Buoyed by the discovery of cell receptors, crucial enzymes and onco genes the understanding and management of brain tumours has improved vastly over the last two decades. This has resulted in the development of newer and more effective surgical, medicinal and radiological treatment options.

Stereotactic surgery is one such minimally invasive surgical procedure, which enables doctors to target a tumour (focal point) in the brain precisely and without damaging its surrounding normal tissues.

In this technique doctors use state-of-the-art machines that focus narrow beams of radiation precisely on a brain tumor. Also called stereotactic radiotherapy, the procedure helps them deliver a higher and more targeted dose of radiation than was possible with external beam radiation therapy.

With advances in imaging calculations of X, Y and Z axis, reaching the target has become much more precise and this is at the heart of the stereotactic radiosurgery procedure.

Once the diagnosis of a brain tumour is made with software- and computers-assisted imaging the treatment is planned beforehand down to the last detail. Doctors define everything from the exact points to be irradiated to the dosage and the number, directions, size, shape and volume of the beams.

The calculated dose is divided between the areas and the beams. Each detail of the carefully designed treatment plan is subjected to rigorous review by a neurosurgeon and a radiotherapist in advance.

The patient is then shifted to the TrueBeam STx machine which delivers the radiation through a rotating arc in just 3-4 minutes with absolute accuracy, speed and safety. The TrueBeam STx which made its Asia Pacific debut at the GIN in Bangalore is the world’s most advanced machine for radio surgery.

The patient does not need to be kept in an ICU and can in fact leave the hospital after spending a day under observation. He, however, needs to regularly follow up with his neurosurgeon for up to two years.

The indication for this technology and its clinical applications for the brain and spine disorders are rapidly expanding. Already, it is the standard treatment of choice for vascular malformations of the brain and benign tumours particularly those in complex locations like the skull base.

It is also effective for removing residual tumours. It is completely non-invasive with not even an incision required. It is safe for patients of all age groups and opens new treatment options for patients with medical complications or those otherwise not fit for surgery.

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