A new kind of radiation technology called shaped beam surgery allows doctors to destroy brain and spinal tumors that cannot be treated using conventional surgery.
Shaped beam surgery, available at only a few US medical centers, including Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, can mold radiation beams to match the exact size and shape of a tumor.
"Shaped beam surgery is a major advance in treating both benign and malignant tumors in the brain and the spinal cord regions," says Dr. David Andrews, a professor of neurosurgery at Jefferson Medical College and director of the division of Neuro-oncologic Neurosurgery and Stereotactic Radiosurgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
So far, this new technology has been used mostly to destroy benign brain tumors that couldn't be treated before.
"Shaped beam surgery gives us infinite flexibility to deal with lesions from the top of the head to the bottom of the spine," Andrews says. "We can wrap doses around structures, such as the spinal cord, and can create a very high dose of radiation and leave the cord untouched. There's no other technology out there that can do this."
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