Physicians and physicists within UT Southwestern Radiation Oncology are recognized worldwide as leaders in the use of stereotactic therapies. Stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR), aso known as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), is a relatively new treatment that is a particularly robust specialty of our radiation oncology team.
Our faculty offer a specialized training course to other medical professionals seeking to gain proficiency in this treatment mode. Our professionals also work closely with UT Southwestern Neurosurgery to treat patients at the Annette Simmons Stereotactic Treatment Center at Zale Lipshy University Hospital, which houses the medical center’s Gamma Knife and CyberKnife.
Our advanced stereotactic technologies include the following:
Stereotactic radiosurgery is a noninvasive treatment in which high dose radiation beams enter the body through various angles and intersect at the desired target. This allows for a concentrated dose to reach the tumor while limiting the dose to surrounding healthy tissues. The CyberKnife uses a linear accelerator mounted on a robotic arm to focus multiple beams of radiation into the tumor.
Currently, the CyberKnife is used to treat both primary and metastatic brain tumors. It can also be used to treat other tumors of the head and neck, base of skull, spine, breast, lung, pancreas, liver, and prostate. At the Annette Simmons Stereotactic Treatment Center, both radiosurgery and radiotherapy with CyberKnife are performed on an outpatient basis.
The Gamma Knife is also housed at the Annette Simmons Stereotactic Treatment Center. Contrary to what the name implies, it is not a knife. The Gamma Knife uses beams of highly focused gamma rays to treat tumors or other abnormalities in the brain.
The Gamma Knife is used primarily to treat brain tumors and a condition known as arteriovenous malformations (an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins), as well as functional problems such as trigeminal neuralgia.
For this single-day, outpatient procedure, the patient is fitted with a head frame for immobilization. Pins designed specifically for the frame fasten the head frame to the skull. The head frame helps guide beams from a radioactive source (cobalt-60) to the desired location.
The Department of Radiation Oncology is one of the leading facilities in the world for treatment of tumors in the body using SBRT. At our main clinic in the Moncrief Radiation Oncology Building, stereotactic radiosurgery is performed using the newest generation Elekta Agility linear accelerator.
UT Southwestern Medical Center was the first institution in North America to install Vero, an advanced system for delivering noninvasive radiation treatment to cancer patients.
The Vero system integrates many state-of-the-art radiation therapy capabilities into one machine and is designed to locate tumors and direct radiation precisely where it is needed. The Vero machine also incorporates several different types of imaging technologies, including X-ray, CT, and fluoroscopy, which allow clinicians to locate and track tumors, even when the patient’s body moves.
Unique to the Vero is a gimbaled linear accelerator head that can swivel in multiple directions.