The Cyberknife is a device used for radiotherapy treatments and more precise than radiosurgery. It is, in fact, an instrument capable of locating the tumor site with extreme precision, orienting the radiation beam of the cybernetic scalpel.
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Cyberknife vs. conventional radiotherapy
The Cyberknife differs significantly from all the other machines used for traditional radiotherapy due to the quantity and precision with which radiation is distributed.
This is made possible thanks to two features –
- Precision – The Cyberknife consists of a compact linear accelerator mounted on a robotic arm that is able to occupy 130 positions in space. In each position, it can be oriented in 12 different ways to emit about 1500 beams with a minimum diameter of 5 mm and a maximum of 6 cm.
- Accuracy – The device is able to follow and compensate for the movement of the patient and the tumor during the session. This is thanks to the acquisition of images throughout the therapy. The images are continuously superimposed with the images of the treatment plan to guarantee a positioning accuracy superior to conventional radiotherapy.
Precision and accuracy allow delivering high doses of concentrated radiation in the tumor area in a few sessions (usually from 1 to 5).
Cyber vs. Gamma Knife
The main differences with the other radiosurgery device, the Gamma Knife, relate to the type of lesions that can be treated.
With the Gamma Knife, you can treat –
- encephalic lesions
- column injuries
With the Cyberknife treatment is possible for –
- encephalic lesions
- column injuries
- lung lesions
- abdominal injuries
- pelvic lesions
- bone lesions
Furthermore, as far as immobilization is concerned, patients undergoing treatment with Gamma Knife must wear a stereotaxic helmet that needs to be attached to the skull. With the Cyberknife, on the other hand, non-invasive immobilization systems are used.
Cyberknife vs. hadron therapy
The main difference with hadron therapy is the type of radiation that is used.
The Cyberknife system uses photons as a radiation source while hadron therapy mainly involves the use of higher energy radiation. In this case, we are dealing with: protons, carbon ions, helium ions, theoretically the most effective on those tumors that do not respond to traditional radiotherapy.
Thanks to the extreme precision and accuracy, the radio-surgical treatment with Cyberknife allows treating lesions near critical organs with much higher doses than conventional radiant treatments. It, therefore, offers higher chances of treatment and control of symptoms with less risk of toxicity.
Going deeper into the above, the radiosurgery with Cyberknife is used to treat –
- encephalic lesions located near critical structures such as the optic chiasm and the brainstem
- spinal cord injury close to the spinal cord,
- lesions of the lung and liver (in which it is necessary to save as much as possible the healthy tissue around the tumor)
- abdominal and pelvic lymph nodes (near the intestine)
- prostate tumors (an organ located between rectum and bladder)
- pancreatic cancer – as also for this tumor therapeutic protocols with Cyberknife are available. They are treatments with a lower toxicity rate than traditional radiotherapy and therefore a guarantee of a better quality of life for the patient.
- It is also possible to carry out reprocessing of already radiated lesions
In general, the side effects of radiotherapy are due to the inflammation that it causes to the healthy organs that are near the treated area. The inflammation depends on the location and the dose they receive.
Due to the accuracy and accuracy of the Cyberknife, the side effects are generally very mild and transient. These may consist of –
- slight pain in the treated area
- headache and nausea due to brain injury
- burning and urination urgency for prostate treatments
- mild cough and fatigue for lung treatments
- nausea and increased intestinal motility for abdominal procedures
- low levels of toxicity in the mucous membranes and skin, with fewer risks of alopecia for patients.
Cyberknife treatment is available at several locations in India from Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon to Fortis Hospital Bangalore. There are at least 10 hospitals in India featuring this advanced procure at a little cost. Each cycle costs between INR 80,000 and 160,000 or USD 1,100 to 2,200. It is an excellent treatment option for many since it takes no more than an hour and not more than five sessions. The minimal side effects is an added plus point for this surgery.