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How the CyberKnife Works

Consisting of three key components.

The Revolutionary CyberKnife

The CyberKnife System consists of three key components:

  • A lightweight linear accelerator produces beams of high-energy radiation that can destroy cancer cells.
  • The robotic arm moves the linear accelerator to a wide variety of positions, allowing treatment from nearly any angle.
  • Two ceiling-mounted cameras take frequent pictures of the patient during treatment so that radiation beams can be targeted to the tumor with incredible accuracy (less than 1/25th of an inch). This targeting system allows the robot to continuously compensate for the patient’s movement to target the tumor with sub-millimeter accuracy.

During treatment, the CyberKnife correlates live radiographic images with pre-operative CT or MRI scans to determine patient and tumor position repeatedly throughout the course of treatment. With the Synchrony Respiratory Tracking System, patients can breathe normally throughout their treatment without breath-holding or gating techniques, enabling clinicians to continuously track, detect and correct for tumor and patient movement throughout the treatment.

With the CyberKnife System’s revolutionary Xsight Spine Tracking System, it is now possible to treat tumors in or near spinal structures without implanting radiographic markers or fiducials.

What Can the CyberKnife Treat?

The CyberKnife System has been cleared by the FDA to treat tumors anywhere in the body where radiation treatment is indicated. Extracranial tumors that have been treated by the CyberKnife System include tumors of the spine, lung, prostate, liver, and pancreas.

Although this list is by no means exhaustive, CyberKnife is being used to treat:

Types of tumors and lesions
  • Malignant tumors.
  • Primary (e.g., astrocytomas, carcinomas, gliomas, lung, pancreas).
  • Metastases (brain and bony).
  • Benign tumors.
Tumors and lesions within the skull
  • Brain metastases.
  • Acoustic neuroma/Vestibular schwannoma.
  • Meningioma.
  • Recurrent glioma.
  • Schwannoma.
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
  • Craniopharyngioma.
  • Pituitary adenoma.
  • Ependymoma.
  • Recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.
  • Glomus jugulare tumor.
  • Hemangioblastoma.
  • Neurofibromatosis.
  • PNET.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia.
Tumors and lesions outside the skull
  • Limited recurrent Head and Neck tumors.
  • Early stage lung cancer.
  • Limited recurrent lung cancer.
  • Pancreatic tumors.
  • Limited liver tumors.
  • Limited inoperable liver metastases.
  • Kidney tumors.
  • Limited pelvic tumor recurrences.
  • Confined prostate cancer (often used as a boost).
  • Spine tumors.
  • Spine metastases.


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