Stereotactic radiotherapy, originally piloted for treating tumors situated in important functional parts of the brain, operates on a converging- beam principle in which dozens of highly focused yet relatively weak radiation beams from different directions travel through normal tissues on their way to a tumor target deep within the body. The intentionally weak beams cause little entry damage, but at the point of convergence, they add up to deliver a very potent tumor treatment.
For decades, its use was confined to the cranium. Precise but also extremely powerful, stereotactic radiotherapy was not possible elsewhere in the body, where breathing and other functions could cause the target to move, potentially resulting in disastrous side effects.
However, recognition that new image-guidance technology could address that challenge has fueled development of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), also known as stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR). For the past decade, UT Southwestern has been on the leading edge of SABR innovations.