Stereotactic radiosurgery: comparing different technologies

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Radiosurgery can be defined as 3-dimensional stereotactic irradiation of small intracranial targets by various radiation techniques. The goal is to deliver, with great accuracy, a large, single fraction dose to a small intracranial target, while minimizing the absorbed dose in the surrounding tissue. This article describes certain technical aspects of radiosurgery and compares the different methods of performing such treatment. The 2 most frequently used types of devices for radiosurgery are units with multiple cobalt sources (e.g., the Gamma Knife) and those based on a linear accelerator. In the former, highly collimated beams of radiation from the cobalt sources intersect at the target. In the latter, the source of a highly collimated beam of high-energy photons directed at the target turns through an arc or set of arcs. The accuracy of target localization, the steepness of fall-off of the radiation dose outside the target and the ability to irradiate an irregularly shaped target are all comparable for these 2 types of devices, despite claims to the contrary.

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