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Robot System Zaps Tough-To-Treat Spine Tumors (Reuters) A robotic system that can precisely target radiation beams may help doctors treat spinal tumors and other abnormalities that may otherwise be considered untreatable, new research suggests. - Oct 01 10:24 AM ET


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Website: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011001/hl/spine_1.html

Posted on: 10/01/2001

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Monday October 1 10:24 AM ET "Robot System Zaps Tough-To-Treat Spine Tumors"

Robot System Zaps Tough-To-Treat Spine Tumors

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A robotic system that can precisely target radiation beams may help doctors treat spinal tumors and other abnormalities that may otherwise be considered untreatable, new research suggests.

Doctors at Stanford University in California have treated a small group of spine-disease patients with the so-called CyberKnife system. The system uses two x-ray cameras to provide "real-time" images that guide a robot-controlled radiation beam to the treatment site. Researchers say the system allows them to more precisely target the spine abnormality, or lesion, and leave normal tissue alone.

Dr. Stephen I. Ryu and colleagues report their results in the October issue of Neurosurgery. One of the co-authors, Dr. John R. Adler, Jr., is the CEO of Accuray, the Sunnyvale, California-based company that developed CyberKnife. The system has been used since 1994 for treating brain tumors.

In their study, the researchers followed 16 patients treated with the system for various types of spinal lesions, including tumors and certain types of malformations. None had complications during the procedure. And among tumor patients who had been followed for at least 6 months, none had seen their tumors come back, Ryu's team reports.

Radiation has been one treatment option for spinal tumors and other lesions. But it comes with the risk of injuring the spinal column, which limits its use.

"If the radiation dose can be confined more precisely to the treatment (area)," Ryu and his colleagues note, "the likelihood of tumor control should increase at the same time that the risk of spinal cord injury is mitigated."

The safety and effectiveness of the CyberKnife approach in spine treatment still requires more study, they point out.

"This experience," they write, "demonstrates the feasibility of image-guided robotic radiosurgery for previously untreatable spinal lesions."

SOURCE: Neurosurgery 2001;49:838-846.

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