Given the success of radiosurgery to treat a variety of both malignant as well as benign intracranial tumors, there has been an increased interest in the use of high doses of conformal radiation to treat spinal lesions in this minimally invasive fashion. Stereotactic spine radiosurgery involves the precise delivery of high doses of ionizing radiation to tumors of the spine and spinal cord that limits the radiation exposure to normal surrounding structures. Its use for the treatment of spinal lesions had been limited by the availability of effective target localization technologies.
Spine radiosurgery is used to treat benign or malignant lesions of the spine, including primary tumors, metastases, meningiomas, neurofibromas, schwannomas, and vascular malformations. Since 2001, members of the Department of Neurological Surgery have collaborated with members of the Department of Radiation Oncology to develop the largest clinical experience in the world with spine radiosurgery; over 2,000 patients have been successfully treated to date. The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System, located on our Shadyside campus, was the first extracranial radiosurgery technology at UPMC and only the third such system in the world. Other technologies include Trilogy and TrueBeam, currently housed at UPMC Shadyside campus.
Spine radiosurgery offers a new and important alternative therapeutic modality for the treatment of spine tumors in patients who are medically inoperable or who are poor surgical candidates, have had prior irradiation, have lesions not amenable to open surgical techniques, or as an adjunct to surgery. Spine radiosurgery is allowing many patients to avoid open surgery with even better clinical outcomes.
For more information regarding the spine radiosurgery program, you may contact Peter C. Gerszten, MD, at (412) 647-1700, or contact Stacey Thompson, RN, nurse coordinator, at (412) 647-9786.