The steps are Setup, Planning and Delivery.
Step 1: Treatment Setup
A special CT scan (called CT/Simulation) is acquired for every patient, and a MRI, if needed, is also acquired. Your physicians use the scans to identify the size, shape and location of the lesion/tumor along with the surrounding vital structures to be avoided.
Making a Mask or Body Mold
Depending on the need for treatment, a custom soft mask (for head/neck treatments) or body mold is formed and used to help minimize movement during the treatment and ensure your comfort. The process is simple and painless.
The treatment of body (non-head) lesion/tumor using the CyberKnife System requires the implantation of gold seeds referred to as fiducial markers. These fiducial markers require a short outpatient procedure to implant 3-6 seeds in and/or around the tumor. This will enable CyberKnife System to track the tumor throughout the treatment. Lesions in the head and spine do not need this placement.
Step 2: Treatment Planning
Your previously obtained CT and MRI data are sent to the CyberKnife treatment-planning computer where the physicians’ team will use advanced software to customize the radiation beams that the robot will deliver to the tumor or lesion during your treatment. You do not need to be present during this step.
Step 3: Treatment Delivery
Wear comfortable clothing and no jewelry. You may bring your favorite music CD to listen to during the treatment. Try to relax knowing this will be a painless procedure. Feel free to bring a list of questions to ask the CyberKnife team. We are here to ensure your comfort and safety.
You will be asked to lie on the treatment table and will be fitted with the custom mask or body mold made for you earlier during the set-up process. In some cases a mild sedative will be given to you to help you relax, along with any other medication that may be needed during treatment. In some cases anesthesia may be required; this evaluation will be done prior to treatment.
During treatment, you will need to lie still. You may sleep during the procedure. The length of treatment varies depending on the location of your lesion/tumor. The image guidance system periodically compares x-ray images to the CT scan to ensure the radiation is targeted accurately at the tumor.
When your treatment session is completed, our nursing staff will do an assessment. When the nursing assessment has been completed, you will be released to home and may resume normal activity within 24 hours. Your physician will prescribe between 1 to 5 treatments. To maximize your healing, we might insert rest days between the treatment days, depending on the treatment site.
As with any radiosurgery or radiation therapy procedure, your progress is likely to be monitored by follow up exams and imaging.