As a radiation oncologist and the Medical Director at Turville Bay, I am continually grateful for being part of such a high quality practice in the beautiful area of Madison, WI. One of my favorite aspects of my practice is that I have had an amazing opportunity to develop and grow the intracranial stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) program at Turville Bay over the past four years. Many centers throughout the US perform stereotactic radiosurgery, but it is our unique, individualized, non-invasive technique that I believe makes the Turville Bay way most exceptional. For many of our patients, this is a life changing experience.
Once I meet with a patient regarding SRS treatment and it is determined that it is most appropriate for them, the planning begins. I orchestrate our team that will prepare an individualized plan including a medical physicist, specialized radiation therapists and the neurosurgeon. We begin with the simulation, at which time a very specific stereotactic mask is created. This is one of the keys to success of our treatment because the technique we use to create this mask allows us to achieve millimeter accuracy and reproducibility. The therapists, physicists and I create the mask to allow for ultimate accuracy, and I will admit, we are one very skilled, picky group.
The simulation session takes around 1-2 hours, and after that time the patient is able to leave the department and relax while the SRS team begins the behind the scenes planning. The information from simulation is transferred to the planning station and this is where the art and math occur. I work together with the neurosurgeon to perfect the treatment location, and the medical physicist to perfect dose distribution and quality assurance.
The patient will return to our department the following morning, will be set up on the treatment table in their perfectly constructed mask, and will undergo the treatment that has been ideally designed for him or her. Our team works so fluently together that it is like a ballet, with smooth motions between well designed steps to ensure that the treatment is performed flawlessly. The patient does not feel discomfort.
After the SRS treatment is complete, it is always wonderful to connect with the patient and their family to reflect on how treatment went and expected follow up. The diligence our team puts into each of these plans, and the wonderful technology we have to allow us to do so is something I see everyday, but it is in this moment that I can celebrate with them, because I know we have changed their lives for the better.