The CyberKnife is the only non-invasive, robot-controlled radiosurgical system for the treatment of tumours in any part of the body. The CyberKnife system combines various modern technologies: an image-supported tumour location system, a high-precision, computer-operated robotic arm and a modern patient positioning system. Thanks to this combination of technologies, the CyberKnife system is capable of treating tumours with an extremely high level of precision.
Continuous tumour tracking
With the help of an image tracking system, the CyberKnife system is able to continually locate the exact position of the tumour and track any changes. The system compares real-time x-rays with computer tomographic (CT) or magnetic resonance tomographic (MRT) images that were created before the operation. The determined coordinates of the tumour are transferred in real-time to the central computer where they are evaluated for the control of the radiation unit. This makes it possible to compensate for small patient movements. The radiation remains directed at the tumour and damage to surrounding tissue is reduced to a minimum.
High-precision robot technology
The CyberKnife system offers a previously unattained level of manoeuvrability and versatility: The flexible and highly precise computer-controlled robotic arm can administer radiation at up to 1,200 different angles. To do so, the CyberKnife system uses a particularly compact radiation device (linear accelerator).
The radiation unit is moved on six axes by a precision robot, making it possible to optimally treat all regions of the body. The combination of these modern technologies enables outstanding precision with a deviation of less than one millimetre, which ensures minimum damage to surrounding tissue.
Other technological advantages
With the CyberKnife system, tumours in all regions of the body can be treated, even those for which a radiosurgical therapy was previously not possible. These include tumours of the lungs and abdominal region, which may change position due to the patient breathing or due to intestinal movements. Tumours located in close vicinity to sensitive tissue, such as the spinal cord or the optic nerve, can also be treated with the CyberKnife system.
Treatment with the CyberKnife system
The CyberKnife system detects and corrects patient and tumour movements caused by respiratory movement during the treatment.
Compensating for respiratory movement
The CyberKnife system includes technology which automatically tracks and compensates for respiratory movement. Tumours of the lungs or abdominal cavity which change position with the rhythm of the patient’s breathing can now be treated with radiosurgery – and with an equally high level of precision. This constant adaptation to the breathing pattern enables the patient to continue breathing normally throughout the entire treatment.
Optic sensors monitor and track the patient’s respiratory movements and compare them with the image-controlled localisation of the tumour. The resulting coordinates are used to ensure the high-precision radiation dynamically follows the moving tumour.
Careful treatment of the spine
With the CyberKnife system, it is also possible to treat tumours close to the spine without having to use frames or implant markers. The system recognises distinctive bone structures in the spine to locate the tumours. Movements are also compensated for to guarantee maximum protection of the sensitive spinal cord.
Optimal positioning of the patient
A modern positioning system also helps to ensure the accuracy of the CyberKnife treatment. It enables the CyberKnife system to access tumours in all regions of the body and deliver a consistently high level of precision. It is not necessary to interrupt the treatment to manually change the position of the patient.
How does the cyberknife-system work?
The CyberKnife system is a robot-controlled linear accelerator that was specially developed for use in radiosurgery. The source of the radiation is a 6 megavolt linear accelerator mounted on a high-precision industrial robotic arm with 6 axes. According to the manufacturer, the robot is accurate to within 0.2 mm. Unlike traditional stereotactic radiosurgery, the CyberKnife system combines an image-supported localisation and guiding system with computer-controlled robot technology.
With this modern technology, the CyberKnife system can continually locate and track the tumour and adjust the radiation unit to the tumour’s changing position. Changes of position caused by the patient’s movements can therefore be compensated for in real-time and stiff body frames are no longer necessary. The CyberKnife system is suitable for treatment in all regions of the body, thanks to its compact structure and high level of flexibility. This includes tumours of the spine, lungs, prostate, liver, pancreas and kidneys. So far around 50,000 patients worldwide have been treated with the CyberKnife system. Around half of these procedures were for tumours located outside the head area.
The advantages of CyberKnife treatment
The CyberKnife system represents a new radiosurgical treatment option for cancer patients. The therapy is particularly beneficial for patients with inoperable, small and inaccessible tumours.
- No surgery necessary
- Short treatment duration of one to five sessions
- Therapy planned and monitored by an interdisciplinary team
The CyberKnife system is a non-invasive alternative to surgery. The treatment does not require anaesthetic and the patient feels nothing during the treatment. In contrast to other radiosurgical procedures, the CyberKnife system does not require the patient to be secured using a body frame.
Protecting the surrounding tissues
The removal of tumours with the CyberKnife system is not stressful for patients. The extremely high level of precision of less than one millimetre deviation (about the width of one hair) enables tumours to be safely treated with minimal risk for the surrounding, healthy tissue and nearby critical and sensitive structures such as, for example, the spinal cord or the optic nerve.
Good quality of life
Treatment with the CyberKnife system takes place on an outpatient basis. A stay at the clinic, subsequent curative treatment or rehabilitation measures are often not necessary. Generally, normal everyday life can be resumed immediately after treatment.