How Radiosurgery Works

How does stereotactic radiosurgery work?

When this treatment is referred to as “surgery,” it means a new kind of surgery.  Radiosurgery is noninvasive and does not involve a scalpel or require general anesthesia, but rather uses energy to destroy cancer tissue.  This makes the "surgery" procedure bloodless (like other types of radiation therapy), and allows patients to avoid the discomfort and recovery, as well as potential complications or side effects, of invasive surgery or certain other conventional forms of cancer treatment.

Planning is the hallmark of radiosurgery, and programming based on high-resolution 3-D images.  The radiation-oncology team delivers very precise beams of radiation from many different angles and planes, concentrating a large dose of radiation at the intersection of these beams to destroy the tumor tissue.  The shaped beams converge at the location of the tumor tissue.

Radiosurgery means planning with high-res images and concentrating beams in pinpoint locations. Unlike when using other forms of radiation therapy that might be delivered over a period of weeks, the radiosurgery team can usually complete each patient’s treatment in a single day or just a few days.  Most often, patients can undergo radiosurgery on an outpatient basis.  The abnormality treated usually takes at least several months to shrink completely.  Stereotactic radiosurgery can be repeated at a later point if necessary.