CyberKnife Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Since January 2005, the University of Tennessee Medical Center has been treating patients with the CyberKnife® Stereotactic Radiosurgery System. The Brain and Spine Institute and Cancer Institute at UT Medical Center are proud to offer the only CyberKnife cancer treatment program in Knoxville. CyberKnife treats tumors and lesions of the brain, spine, pancreas, prostate, kidney, liver and lung, as well as certain functional disorders like trigeminal neuralgia and arteriovenous malformations.

The UT Medical Center CyberKnife team includes some of the region’s most knowledgeable and dedicated cancer specialists. CyberKnife treatment utilizes a team approach in which medical experts collaborate to develop a customized treatment plan for each patient’s case. Team members typically include a surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, medical physicist, nurse, radiation therapist and other clinical experts at the facility.

What is CyberKnife?

CyberKnife is the world’s first and only robotic radiosurgery system, comprised of a compact linear accelerator – a machine that generates a radiation beam – attached to a highly maneuverable robotic arm. This technology has already been used to treat more than 200,000 patients around the world.

CyberKnife treats patients with a procedure called stereotactic radiosurgery, a non-invasive method of treating tumors with high-dose radiation precisely aimed from different angles. CyberKnife destroys malignant and benign tumors with high-dose, highly accurate radiation beams while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. This pinpoint accuracy allows physicians to treat difficult-to-reach tumors that may have been impossible to treat in the past. While the name may conjure images of knives and scalpels, CyberKnife is not traditional surgery. Treatment is painless and there is no cutting or anesthesia required.

CyberKnife also significantly reduces treatment time for the patient. Treatment is reduced to one to five treatments over the course of one to five days depending on the size, location and type of tumor. In contrast, traditional radiation therapy typically takes five days a week over a period of six to eight weeks. Most patients go home right after CyberKnife treatment and immediately resume normal activities. There may be side effects, such as fatigue, but these are usually minor and temporary.

What are the benefits of CyberKnife?

CyberKnife offers important cancer treatment options, especially for patients with inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or those who seek an alternative to conventional surgery or radiation therapy. Because CyberKnife does not require incisions or anesthesia, there also is much less risk for complications than with conventional surgery. CyberKnife offers several benefits for patients, particularly in regards to quality of life issues that may be dramatically impacted by conventional surgery.

Key advantages of CyberKnife:

  • Treats patients in as few as one to five treatments
  • Pain free and requires no anesthesia
  • Minimal side effects
  • Outpatient procedure with little or no recovery time and no overnight hospital stay required
  • Allows for an immediate return to normal activities
  • Constantly corrects for tumor and patient movement throughout procedures, allowing patients to lie comfortably during treatment
  • Reaches most tumors from virtually unlimited directions with robotic mobility
  • Minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor site
  • Lesions previously treated with maximum allowed radiation doses may be treated

How does CyberKnife work?

The CyberKnife system uses the combination of robotics and image guidance to deliver concentrated and accurate beams of radiation to intracranial and extracranial targets, many of which are inoperable. The CyberKnife treats targeted tumors often in difficult-to-reach areas. Through the use of image guidance cameras, the CyberKnife system locates the position of a tumor in the body and uses its robotic arm to deliver highly focused beams of radiationthat converge at the tumor. Thus, the tumor receives a cumulative dose of radiation high enough to control or kill the tumor cells while minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. Because of its high precision and accuracy, CyberKnife can noninvasively achieve a surgical-like outcome for lesions in the body. Most treatments typically last 30 – 90 minutes per lesion, after which the patient can get up and go home the same day. The CyberKnife, unlike other stereotactic radiosurgery systems, is able to position the patient without the use of an invasive stereotactic head frame.

Why can CyberKnife reduce the number of treatments a patient needs?

By delivering high-dose radiation from precise angles, CyberKnife significantly reduces treatment time for the patient. With CyberKnife, the duration of treatment is reduced to one to five treatments over a course of one to five days depending on the size, location and type of tumor. In contrast, traditional radiation therapy is typically delivered for five days a week over a period of six to eight weeks. This can be attributed to CyberKnife’s ability to administer high-dose radiation rather than low-dose radiation.


Click here to view a list of CyberKnife support resources. For additional information, please contact the CyberKnife Center at 865.305.6889.

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The The University of Tennessee Medical Center and UT Graduate School of Medicine is a not-for-profit business, a 501 (c) (3) organization. Gifts from individuals, corporations and private foundations are vital to the University of Tennessee Medical Center and UT Graduate School of Medicine and to our mission of excellence in patient care, research and education.

For a copy of our 501 (c) (3) certificate, please contact the Development office at 865.305.6611 or by email.