Surgery Without a Knife

Dr. James Richardson Turville Bay Radiation Oncology Madison Wisconsin

It’s called stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) but it’s not surgery in the traditional sense. There's no incision. One of the tools in our arsenal at Turville Bay is a non-surgical radiation therapy used to treat abnormalities and tumors of the brain. This surgery is far less invasive than neurosurgery which requires incisions to skin, skull and membranes surrounding the brain tissue itself. For the patient, SRS nearly eliminates surgical recovery time.

It begins with an incredible piece of technology, a linear accelerator called TrueBeam. Our team of radiation oncologists use our TrueBeam LINAC to deliver radiation therapy every day to patients from south-central Wisconsin.

But with stereotactic radiosurgery, Dr. Michelle Mackay teams with a neurosurgeon and a team of others using 3D imaging to target high doses of precisely-targeted radiation. The equipment is specialized, focusing many small beams of radiation on the tumor or other target. Each beam has very little effect on the tissue it passes through, but when all the beams intersect a powerful dose is delivered cutting off blood flow to the tumor and disrupting the DNA of tumor cells so they can no longer replicate. There are few side-effects usually limited to a headache. We recommend resting after the procedure.

Weeks of preparation and calculations go into preparing for the radiosurgery at Turville Bay. But to the patient the process is incredibly fast and life altering. In a single outpatient treatment appointment, the tumor begins to shrink rapidly. SRS is used to treat noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) brain tumors, including meningioma, paraganglioma, hemangioblastoma and craniopharyngioma. It may also be used to treat cancers that have spread to the brain from other parts of the body (brain metastases).

The success of Turville Bay’s stereotactic radiosurgery program is notable. An additional TrueBeam LINAC is currently being added at Turville Bay and will be in use by summer.