The CyberKnife uses a compact linear accelerator, known as a LINAC, mounted on a robotic arm to deliver concentrated radiation beams to the targeted site from multiple positions and angles using image-guidance cameras to track the tumor position. Thus, the tumor receives a cumulative dose of radiation high enough to control tumor cells while minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. The CyberKnife is the only system that also compensates for patient movement to ensure highly accurate delivery of radiation during treatment.
During treatments, patients lie on a table and wear a custom-fit mesh facemask or body cradle, depending on their condition, while the robotic arm moves around them. Treatments typically take 30 – 60 minutes per lesion. Once the treatment is completed, patients can go home.
Patients treated for tumors or lesions located outside of the head, neck or spine region may need small metal markers known as fiducials placed near the tumor prior to treatment. Placing fiducials is typically an outpatient procedure.
Mask and body molds
Patients might be fitted with a custom-made mask or body cradle molded from a soft material. These help minimize movement during the treatment and ensure patients' comfort, and the molding procedure is simple and painless.
Patients receive a CT scan to help pinpoint the tumor's exact location. CyberKnife physicians also use the CT data to customize the number, intensity and direction of radiation beams patients receive.
Patients are asked to wear comfortable clothing. We also ask patients to remove jewelry if it covers an area that will be treated. Most of all, relax! This is a painless procedure. A technician will help you onto the treatment table and fit the mask or body mold if needed. Patients are observed throughout the treatment on closed-circuit television, and they can pause treatment at any time by waving or speaking to the technicians.
There's no sedation or anesthesia. Patients are free to fall asleep during treatment.
While the CyberKnife's advanced tracking system accounts for movements like breathing, you're asked to lie still during treatments. The system periodically takes x-ray images and compares them to the CT scan data to make sure the radiation beam is locked on the tumor. Treatment procedures take about 30 – 90 minutes, depending on the complexity of your tumor.
Patients are usually allowed to leave the center once the treatment is complete and go right back to their normal routines. If your physician prescribes treatment that is fractionated, or divided in stages, you'll need to return for up to four more treatments, depending on the treatment plan.
We'll need to see you for follow-up imaging and physician consultation to monitor your tumor's progress.