What is stereotactic radiosurgery?
Stereotactic radiosurgery is not a type of surgery, but rather a type of radiotherapy treatment in which radiation is used to target a tumour very precisely.
Why is it used?
Stereotactic radiotherapy is often recommended for the treatment of brain tumours that return years after initial treatment, or to target small metastatic brain tumours. The treatment may also be recommended for the treatment of small tumours and tumours situated near critical structures.
Are there any side effects?
Fortunately, stereotactic radiotherapy generally has much fewer side effects than other forms of external beam radiotherapy. Because the treatment area is typically much smaller, less healthy tissue is affected by the radiation. A common side effect of the treatment is fatigue, so we recommend that you rest after your treatment session. You may experience a headache or nausea, which can usually be managed with medication.
What does the treatment involve?
Before your treatment begins, your doctor will take scans to determine the exact area which needs to be treated as well as to visualise the organs in the brain which need to be avoided. By targeting the tumour very accurately, the healthy tissue in your brain will receive minimal radiation, and your side effects will be lessened.
During the treatment, you will lie on the treatment couch and be asked to keep as still as possible. A tight fitting plastic mask with holes for your eyes and mouth will be used to keep your head in position while the linear accelerator machine is used to administer radiation. You shouldn't feel any pain or discomfort during treatment sessions, which typically take between 30 to 60 minutes to complete.
Your doctor may recommend between one and five treatment sessions, depending on the type and size of your tumour.