SEATTLE, June 1, 2006 – It sounds and looks like space-age equipment in Dr. McCoy's sick bay aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. In reality it's called the CyberKnife and it's the latest in a series of technological innovations being used by Swedish Medical Center to provide advanced radiation therapy.
"Now, people throughout the Pacific Northwest will have access to the latest technology to make radiation treatment more effective and safer," said Albert B. Einstein Jr., M.D., executive director of the Swedish Cancer Institute. "The CyberKnife adds one more advanced treatment option to those we already have available for our patients."
The CyberKnife now being used to treat patients at Swedish is the only one in the Pacific Northwest. The next closest one is at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
The CyberKnife is a form of radiation therapy that employs stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). This technology combines the principles of stereotaxy, or three-dimensional target localization, with multiple cross-fired beams from a high-energy radiation source, to precisely irradiate an abnormal and oftentimes cancerous lesion within a patient's body. Advanced robotics, in conjunction with sophisticated treatment planning software, control the movement of the lightweight linear accelerator to deliver the 3-D targeting that dramatically reduces damage to healthy, surrounding tissue. The real advantage of the CyberKnife is its flexibility in treating tumors and lesions throughout the body, thanks to its unique design, and its high degree of accuracy.
Among the advanced radiation-therapy technologies available through Swedish are:
Gamma Knife – The Gamma Knife is another type of stereotactic radiosurgery and is considered the gold standard for SRS procedures in treating intracranial tumors and lesions. The Gamma Knife has been in use for more than three decades and is used as the performance standard against which other technologies are measured. While it is limited to intracranial lesions, its accuracy is better than 0.3mm thereby dramatically minimizing potential damage to surrounding, healthy tissue. More than 350,000 cases have been treated worldwide. Swedish provides Gamma-Knife treatments through a partnership with Northwest Hospital.
IGRT (Image-Guided Radiation therapy) – IGRT uses a new form of advanced scanning technology that enables the physician to adjust the radiation beam during treatment based on the position of the target tumor and critical organs. Tumors can constantly move within the body, such as when a patient breathes during treatment. Swedish is the first medical center in the Pacific Northwest to offer IGRT. Like Gamma Knife and CyberKnife, IGRT allows radiation to be delivered more precisely while avoiding damage to more of the surrounding healthy tissue.
CyberKnife – The CyberKnife is the latest stereotactic radiosurgery technology and was designed with flexibility and accuracy in mind. The CyberKnife uses an advanced, lightweight linear accelerator to deliver multiple high-energy beams of radiation to the targeted tumor or lesion. The linear accelerator is mounted on a robotic arm, which can point the beam from a variety of angles. The CyberKnife at Swedish uses a targeting technology called Synchrony, which provides continuous adjustment of the radiation beam that compensates for movement of the patient or the tumor during treatment.
"With this suite of advanced radiation-therapy options, patients in the Pacific Northwest now have access to the full range of available technology," said Swedish Cancer Institute radiation oncologist Sandra S. Vermeulen, M.D., who is co-director of the Seattle CyberKnife Center at Swedish.
"Each of these technologies offers its own unique strengths and having all of them available allows us to find a treatment that best matches each patient's individual medical situation," added Seattle Neuroscience Institute neurosurgeon Marc R. Mayberg, M.D., who is co-director of the Seattle CyberKnife Center at Swedish. "This is a major step forward for our region in the treatment of tumors."
Swedish Medical Center is the largest, most comprehensive, nonprofit health provider in the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 1910, it now has more than 7,000 employees and a medical staff of more than 2,000 physicians, most of which are private practitioners. Swedish now encompasses three hospital campuses (First Hill, Providence and Ballard) totaling 1,245 licensed beds, a new freestanding emergency room and specialty center in Issaquah, Swedish Home Care Services and Swedish Physicians – a network of 12 primary-care clinics located throughout the Greater Seattle area. In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cancer care, cardiovascular care, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, neurological care, sleep medicine, pediatrics, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org