Neurosurgery One first in Rocky Mountain region to offer new treatment
The latest development in brain tumor treatment without surgery looks somewhat like a cross between a giant hamster wheel and the newest ride at Elitch’s. The Zap-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery system treats brain tumors as small as a pinhead with high-intensity radiation that damages the DNA of the cancer cells.
J. Adair Prall, MD, a neurosurgeon and CEO of Denver-based Neurosurgery One, performed the first Zap-X stereotactic radiosurgery in the Rocky Mountain region on Aug. 24, 2022, at Littleton Adventist Hospital. Dr. Prall treated William “Bill” Lawson, a 71-year-old patient from Edwards, Colo., for a vestibular schwannoma tumor. Also referred to as an acoustic neuroma, these types of tumors are known to cause pain, dizziness, balance issues, and hearing loss. Lawson’s tumor was benign (non-cancerous) and was located on the main nerve leading between the inner ear and brain. Read the full press release about the pioneering procedure here.
A week after becoming the first Zap-X patient in the Rocky Mountain region, Mr. Lawson shared his experience with us right before heading out for a weekend of water skiing near Grand Junction. He’s an electrical contractor with a passion for kiteboarding, windsurfing, skiing, and foiling.
What did you think about the Zap-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery procedure?
It was the most professionally organized experience in my life. From the time I walked through the doors, to the nurses coming out to help me prepare for the procedure, to the procedure being ready, to putting the mask on and sliding me into the device, it was just an incredibly well-thought out and professional experience. I honestly had no idea the Zap-X treatment had even started.
As for being in the Zap-X device, it was like Star Trek being in there. The music was vey listenable, not like an MRI, and it helped the time go by quickly. When the procedure was done and they slid me out of the device, it was like a party, it was pretty awesome.
What did it feel like being the first patient in the Rocky Mountain region to have Zap-X brain tumor treatment without surgery?
I’m really glad I was the first. It was a cool experience and I hope I might inspire others to try it out, if they are candidates. It only took about 50 minutes. I had two albums that I had them play while I was getting treatment. The first album was 47 minutes, so the second album had just started and then I was already done. I was surprised. Every patient’s experience will be different and the procedure may take longer for them, of course.
I would never even think twice about having the procedure again if I had to go back and make the decision again. I was back doing what I love right away. I mean 50 minutes, and I’m most likely done with the tumor. That’s pretty great. It will be different for every patient, but for me that’s a huge pay off for very little inconvenience. I was water skiing the next day.
Was there anything you didn’t expect about the Zap-X procedure?
Well, I wasn’t expecting to feel so good. When they told me to sit up after being pulled out of the machine, I felt great. I stood up, talked to everyone, and walked out the front doors. I even drove part of the way home, which I wasn’t supposed to because they gave me a sedative, but my wife was monitoring me, and we felt safe. I drove halfway home to Vail.
While I wouldn’t call these big deals, I would say the mask I had to wear while getting treatment was tight I also had to lay super still, but the mask secured my head so it was achievable. The chamber around your head is a lot bigger than an MRI so I was fine, but some people might start feeling claustrophobic. I just share that because to me, it was worth it, but everyone has to decide what they can tolerate.
What are the next steps for you in terms of your tumor treatment without surgery?
My doctors prepared me for the possibility that I may need at least one more treatment. However, Dr. Prall and Dr. Bugoci [Dr. Darlene Bugoci is a radiation oncologist in Littleton] were really confident they got it all with that first Zap-X treatment. In fact, Dr. Prall said, “You’re done with me now. See you later.” I have a verbal follow-up appointment with Dr. Bugoci 5 weeks post- procedure, but I’m going to go in person as I want to see her and bring all the nurses a big cake to thank them.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about the Zap-X procedure?
I just want to reiterate that it was the most professional experience of my life. It’s really how everything should be, especially when it comes to your health. My wife has been with me every step of the way, too, which made the entire experience possible.
About the Zap-X Brain Tumor Treatment without Surgery
Zap-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery is a form of stereotactic radiosurgery, which is non-invasive brain tumor treatment without surgery that uses high-intensity radiation. The radiation damages the DNA of the cancer cells, which prevents them from reproducing. Zap-X provides improved treatment accuracy as well as patient safety, comfort, and convenience as compared to more traditional stereotactic radiosurgery procedures like gamma knife. The “vault free” radiation delivery technology eliminates the traditional practice of prolonged patient isolation in a 2-3 million pound concrete bunker during treatment. Zap-X has also been found to provide pinpoint accuracy without the need for an invasive head frame. The Zap-X technology delivers a streamlined experience that eliminates the same-day MRI and treatment planning (which is done prior to patient arrival). In addition, patients, like Lawson, have described it as a more relaxing procedure as the neurosurgeon and medical team can be in the room during the procedure. Learn more about Zap-X.