Contrary to its name, stereotactic radiosurgery used to treat brain tumors is not surgery at all. It is called radiosurgery because it uses radiation like surgery to treat tumors. However, instead of surgically removing the tumor, this non-invasive procedure utilizes intense focused beams of radiation to damage the DNA of cells in brain tumors, secondary brain tumors (also called metastatic brain cancer or “mets”), meningiomas, and acoustic neuromas. SRS radiation also can be used to treat trigeminal neuralgia.
Stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS radiation, can be performed using a variety of technology systems, such as gamma knife. Neurosurgery One performs stereotactic radiosurgery using the Zap-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery system. Neurosurgery One is the first provider in the Rocky Mountain region to treat patients using this technology. Zap-X is the most recent advancement in stereotactic radiosurgery and offers many benefits to the patient.
FAQs About Stereotactic Radiosurgery
Conditions Treated With Stereotactic Radiosurgery
What is stereotactic radiosurgery?
Stereotactic radiosurgery uses high-intensity and highly focused radiation beams to destroy the DNA of cells in tumors to prevent them from duplicating and growing. It is a non-invasive procedure that is used to treat tumors, both cancerous and benign, in different parts of the body. Neurosurgery One uses stereotactic radiosurgery specifically to treat tumors in the head and brain and also to treat trigeminal neuralgia. In the case of trigeminal neuralgia, the radiation destroys the nerve ending that is sending pain signals to the brain.
Unlike traditional radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery delivers radiation more precisely to the target area. This reduces the amount of radiation exposure to healthy tissue and reduces the number of radiation treatments required.
Is SRS radiation the same thing as gamma knife?
In the past, stereotactic radiosurgery has been called gamma knife or gamma knife radiation. In fact, gamma knife is just the name of one type of technology used to perform stereotactic radiosurgery. Other types of technology or machines used to perform stereotactic radiosurgery include a linear accelerator (Linac) and Zap-X. Neurosurgery One neurosurgeons who perform stereotactic radiosurgery use an evidenced-based approach to stereotactic radiosurgery. Littleton Adventist Hospital added the Zap-X technology in the summer of 2022 and is the first center in the Rocky Mountain region to offer this new form of stereotactic radiosurgery.
What is ZAP-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery?
Zap-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery is one of the most recent innovative types of stereotactic radiosurgery. Approved by the FDA in 2017, the ZAP-X system is a robotic stereotactic radiosurgery medical device that offers treatment for many types of primary brain tumors, metastatic brain cancer (“mets”), and other conditions in the brain, head and neck. ZAP-X utilizes unique gyroscopic motion to direct radiosurgical beams that precisely focus radiation on the tumor while helping to minimize radiation exposure to surrounding healthy brain tissue. The gyroscopic motion allows for the radiation to be delivered from a multitude of non-coplanar angles to precisely target the tumor, as compared to gamma knife which is only able to deliver radiation in a limited number of angles.
In August 2022, Neurosurgery One became the first provider in the Rocky Mountain region to treat patients using Zap-X technolgy. We plan to use Zap-X for all stereotactic radiosurgeries, replacing gamma knife as it delivers the same pinpoint accuracy but in a much more comfortable fashion.
How is Zap-X different from gamma knife?
As compared to more traditional stereotactic radiosurgery procedures like gamma knife, Zap-X offers superior outcomes in terms of patient safety, comfort, convenience, and treatment accuracy. Zap-X has been found to deliver:
- Pinpoint accuracy without the need for an invasive head frame
- A streamlined experience that eliminates the same-day MRI and treatment planning (which is done prior to patient arrival)
- A “vault free” radiation delivery technology, eliminating the long standing practice of prolonged patient isolation in a 2-3 million pound concrete bunker during treatment
- A more relaxing procedure with the neurosurgeon and medical team in the room during the procedure
Is stereotactic surgery a minimally invasive brain surgery?
Stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS, is not surgery at all. In fact, it is a non-invasive procedure that uses radiation to destroy the DNA in brain tumor cells so that they cannot reproduce. It also can be used to treat acoustic neuroma tumors and trigeminal neuralgia.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is performed as on outpatient procedure, which means you check in, have the procedure, and go home on the same day.
Is stereotactic radiosurgery effective at treating trigeminal neuralgia?
The Colorado TN Clinic at Neurosurgery One offers stereotactic radiosurgery as one of three treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia. This non-invasive procedure intentionally damages the trigeminal nerve, stopping the nerve from conducting pain signals. Since the beams are focused on the target, the procedure results in minimal damage to healthy tissue. The procedure is completed in one visit and patients return to daily activity the next day.
- Outcomes: Approximately a 90% chance of improvement (Can be repeated, with secondary procedures providing an 89% success rate, even in those whose condition recurred or who failed initial treatment.)
- Benefits: Outpatient, noninvasive procedure; no anesthesia; virtually no risk or recovery time, other than a 2% chance of permanent numbness (not weakness or sagging)
- Drawbacks: Delayed pain relief, up to a month or more, but typically within one week; slightly lower success rate than other surgical therapies
- Ideal Candidate: Most patients with trigeminal neuralgia; in particular, those with relatively good but not great control who are willing to undergo a very low-impact procedure without any recovery time to lessen their pain, their side effects or their need for medication
Dr. J. Adair Prall, Medical Director of the Colorado TN Clinic, has performed more than 850 stereotactic radiosurgery procedures. Research has shown Zap-X treatment to have similar outcomes as CyberKnife, which also delivers radiation from thousands of angles like the Zap-X treatment.