SRS (Stereotactic RadioSurgery) is used to treat conditions involving the brain or spine including:
- Cancers that start in the brain (gliomas and other primary brain tumors)
- Cancers that spread to the brain (brain metastases)
- Benign tumors arising from the membranes covering the brain (meningiomas)
- Benign tumors of the inner ear (acoustic neuromas)
- Abnormal blood vessels in the brain (arteriovenous malformations)
- Pituitary adenomas
- Optic nerve and retinal tumors
- Spinal Tumors
Radiosurgery was originally defined by the Swedish neurosurgeon Lars Leksell as “a single high dose fraction of radiation, stereotactically directed to an intracranial region of interest”. In stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), the word stereotactic refers to a three-dimensional coordinate system that enables accurate correlation of a virtual target seen in the patient’s diagnostic images with the actual target position in the patient anatomy.
Technological improvements in medical imaging and computing have led to increased clinical adoption of stereotactic radiosurgery and have broadened its scope in recent years. Notwithstanding these improvements, the localization accuracy and precision that are implicit in the word “stereotactic” remain of utmost importance for radiosurgical interventions today. Stereotactic accuracy and precision are significantly increased by using a device known as the N-localizer. Recently, the original concept of radiosurgery has been expanded to include treatments comprising up to five fractions, and stereotactic radiosurgery has been redefined as a distinct neurosurgical discipline that utilizes externally generated ionizing radiation to inactivate or eradicate defined targets in the head or spine without the need for a surgical incision.
Irrespective of the similarities between the concepts of stereotactic radiosurgery and fractionated radiotherapy, and although both treatment modalities are reported to have identical outcomes for certain indications, the intent of both approaches is fundamentally different. The aim of stereotactic radiosurgery is to destroy target tissue while preserving adjacent normal tissue, where fractionated radiotherapy relies on a different sensitivity of the target and the surrounding normal tissue to the total accumulated radiation dose. Historically, the field of fractionated radiotherapy evolved from the original concept of stereotactic radiosurgery following discovery of the principles ofradiobiology: repair, reassortment, repopulation, and reoxygenation. Today, both treatment techniques are complementary as tumors that may be resistant to fractionated radiotherapy may respond well to radiosurgery and tumors that are too large or too close to critical organs for safe radiosurgery may be suitable candidates for fractionated radiotherapy.