Stereotactic radiosurgery

What is it?

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a type of radiation therapy used to treat brain and other tumors and conditions inside the head and spine. It accurately delivers very high doses of radiation to the tumor in few treatments (one to five), while limiting the impact on nearby healthy tissue.

Markey is the only cancer center in Kentucky that uses Gamma Knife—a cutting-edge SRS technology with approximately 200 tightly focused beams of radiation that deliver a very precise high dose of radiation, usually in just one treatment session. Our physicians are highly trained and certified to use Gamma Knife—conducting over 150 treatments per year.

What cancers is it used it to treat?

SRS is used to treat brain and other tumors and conditions inside the head and spine, including:

  • Pituitary tumors.
  • Meningiomas.
  • Astrocytomas.
  • Craniopharyngiomas.
  • Metastatic tumors from other sites.
  • Acoustic neuromas.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia.

We also use SRS to treat symptoms associated with these conditions, which is called palliative treatment. Stereotactic body radiation therapy is a similar treatment used to treat tumors outside of the brain.

What should patients expect?

Prior to the first SRS session, patients meet with their radiation oncologist for a treatment planning session. We use imaging technology, such as CT and MRI, to locate and map the tumor, as well as to choose the precise beam positioning and dose intensity.

Depending on the condition or symptoms being treated, a patient will need one to five treatment sessions, during which the radiation is delivered. Gamma Knife treatments are typically delivered in a single session and can last from 30 minutes to over two hours. With other technologies that deliver multiple treatments, each session will last only about 20 minutes. In either case, patients are able to immediately go back to their daily tasks.

What are the benefits?

  • For most patients, SRS is a lower-risk and less-invasive treatment option than surgery for eligible patients.
  • It has minimal side effects, particularly compared with surgery, and does not typically affect quality of life.

Having offered this radiation treatment longer than almost any other cancer center in the country, Markey’s radiation oncologists have the most extensive experience and technology to help effectively treat patients using SRS techniques.