Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital has added SRS & SRT to its array of radiotherapy treatments. This breakthrough in technology uses a highly focused beam of X-ray radiation. It is designed to benefit brain tumour patients and those with a variety of nonmalignant brain diseases. The medical team, which comprises of a Radiation Oncologist, Neurosurgeon, Medical Physicist, Therapy Radiographer and nurses will provide the best course of treatment needed.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery is conducted by having a full delivery of radiation dose given in 1 session and can only treat well-defined tumours that are smaller than 3 to 4 centimeters. Most patients can be treated as outpatients and will be able to return home immediately after the procedure. SRS was once limited to brain tumours, but today may be used to treat a variety of diseases and conditions such as spinal cord tumours, pituitary tumours, lung tumours, arteriovenous malformations and acoustic neuroma.
Stereotactic Radiotherapy is very similar to SRS but instead of being completed in a session, the radiation dose is delivered over a course of several treatment sessions and small doses, instead of all at once. SRT is also known as fractionated radio surgery, because a fraction of the total radiation dose is delivered at each session. SRT treats tumours or abnormalities in the brain, head, neck, spine, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas.
Treatment is extremely accurate and precise. Thus ensuring critical normal tissues to be spared from the potential harmful rays of very high dose radiation. Patients with abnormal blood vessels in the brain e.g. arteriovenous malformations, nasopharynx tumours or acoustic schwannomas have the opportunity of not undergoing surgery. Therefore, the duration of recovery is faster.
This procedure involves 4 phases: placement of head frame, imaging of tumour location, computerized dose planning and radiation delivery. A nurse will place a small needle in your hand or arm to give medications, if needed, and a contrast material. Before the head frame is placed, you will be injected with a local anesthetic in the front and back of your head to numb your scalp. These shots are only slightly uncomfortable and will help minimize the discomfort of the head frame. As the head frame is pinned to your skull, you will feel pressure or tightness which will disappear within 15 minutes.
Treatment time takes around 30 minutes to 1 hour. Normally prior to procedure, a special shampoo to wash the patient’s hair is given and it is required not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before treatment.
Radiosurgery treatments are similar to having an x-ray. You will not be able to see, feel or hear the x-rays. There is no pain or discomfort from the actual treatment. If there is any discomfort for other reasons, such as back pain or pressure at level of head frame- it is advised to inform doctor or therapist immediately.
With the removal of head frame, there might be some minor bleeding from the small pin sites that will be dressed. It is common that some patients have nausea or slight headache though many may not experience any effects at all.
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