Healthwise: Stereotactic Radiosurgery

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

December 30, 2009

The new Stereotactic Radiosurgery (S.R.S.) machine at Martha Jefferson Hospital is shining new light on cancer care. The S.R.S. machine is a new tool that does not actually require surgery.

"It is a method which allows us to give a very high dose of radiation to a very pin-point target," said Dr. Sylvia Hendrix.

That target is tumors in the brain.

"When we use conventional whole brain radiation, it's the entire brain that's receiving radiation in a lower dose. So, the advantage of Stereotactic Radiosurgery is it allows you to treat areas of the brain that are surgically not accessible," said Dr. Hendrix.

Accessibility, lower cost, and accuracy are three key benefits to patients provided by S.R.S. at Martha Jefferson. Plus, patients receiving S.R.S. can usually go home the same day they are treated, and they have a short recovery time.

David Waid explained how it works.

"We take this frame that is connected to the skull, and of course the brain is connected to the skull from the inside, so we've got rigid bodies attached all the way through. We can put this accessory on called a cone, and it will arc during treatment, you can see the beam would come out here and point to the exact target in the brain to delivery radiation therapy," said Waid, a Chief Medical Physicist at Martha Jefferson.

The new addition to Martha Jefferson allows patients to stay in Charlottesville for treatment instead of traveling somewhere else. Doctors admit this is a time-consuming process, but a great investment in a patient's future.

"For the majority of patients, cure is not going to be an option, it's not going to be achievable, and so your goals are to preserve the patient's neurological function, preserve their quality of life, and extend that life," said Dr. Hendrix.

Doctors at Martha Jefferson are confident S.R.S. will achieve those goals, shining a beam of hope in the fight against cancer.

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