CyberKnife

Targeted radiation, fewer treatments.
CyberKnife

Spine Tumors

For most patients with a spine tumor, the CyberKnife® treatment process follows the steps explained here. The length of the treatment process will depend on your condition, your schedule and the schedules of the CyberKnife team.

Some of the steps can be performed on the same day. Your doctor or nurse will go over these steps in detail with you.

Step 1: Gathering your medical information

Prior to scheduling an appointment at the HealthEast CyberKnife Center, we will need your medical records. Your help in gathering necessary medical information will speed up the process. Past CT or MRI films and previous radiation therapy records are especially helpful in determining if CyberKnife is right for you.

During this step of the process you will work (over the phone) with a CyberKnife nurse and clinic assistant.

It's important to bring an updated medication list with you to each appointment if there are any changes to any medications you are taking.

Step 2: Consulting with a CyberKnife physician

During your first visit to the CyberKnife Center, you will meet with a nurse, radiation oncologist and surgeon. We will review your situation and determine if you are a candidate for CyberKnife.

This is your time to ask questions and share concerns. If you are a candidate for CyberKnife, we will go through the pros and cons of treatment and discuss what to expect.

  • Where do I go? CyberKnife Center at St. Joseph's Hospital
  • How long will it take? Please allow up to 4 hours for this visit

St. Joseph's Hospital

Exceptional care in the heart of downtown St. Paul.

Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1853, St. Joseph's is proud to hold the distinction as Minnesota's first hospital.

See more about this hospital
Get patient and visitor information

Connect by phone:

Phones answered 24/7
651-232-3000

Address:

45 West 10th Street
St. Paul, MN 55102

Please note: We have a significant construction project taking place in our parking ramp, so please allow extra time for parking.

Get directions

Step 3: Fiducial placement

Fiducials are tiny gold or stainless steel markers that are implanted under the skin to guide the CyberKnife's radiation beams. The fiducial placement procedure will be explained in detail when you meet with the CyberKnife physicians at your consultation.

A radiology nurse will call you to schedule an appointment for placing the fiducials and will explain how to prepare for the procedure.

  • Where do I go? Register in the Emergency Department at St. Joseph's Hospital
  • How long will it take? 5 to 6 hours

Step 4: Simulation and CT/MRI

You will receive a call from the CyberKnife Center to schedule this appointment. This step will occur approximately one to three days after your fiducials are placed.

If you are told to have labs drawn, please arrive at the lab drawing station the lobby level. After labs,go to the CyberKnife Center.

During this appointment, you will have a body mold made. The mold is used to help minimize movement during CyberKnife treatment. Creating the body mold is a simple and painless process.

The final part of your appointment will be a CT/MRI scan. The painless scan creates computerized images of the tumor. This scan will assist in the planning process because it will let your doctors to see the exact size, shape and location of the tumor.

Before you leave, you will be given prescriptions for the medications you'll take at the time of treatment.

  • Where do I go? Lab drawing station, then the CyberKnife Center at St. Joseph's Hospital
  • How long will it take? Please allow up to 4 hours

Step 5: Planning

When your planning scans are finished, the physicians will review them in great detail to plan your CyberKnife treatment. Once the physicians have finished their work, the physics department will finish the treatment planning.

This step may take a few weeks. You do not need to be present during this part of the process.  Once your treatment plan is completed, a CyberKnife nurse will contact you to with the dates and times of your treatments.

Step 6: Treatment

At this appointment, we’ll begin CyberKnife treatment. As you're preparing, keep in mind:

  • You'll need to have someone drive you to and from the hospital. This is because you will be given a mild sedative to help you relax and make you comfortable during treatment. You should not drive until the next day.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and no jewelry.
  • There are no eating or drinking restrictions prior to treatment.
  • Please bring music or audio book (CD or tape) to listen to during your treatment.

As always, feel free to bring a list of questions to ask the CyberKnife team. They are there to ensure your comfort and safety.

It is common to be nervous before treatment, but keep in mind that CyberKnife is a painless procedure. You will lie on a table with your body mold underneath you. You will be awake throughout the entire procedure. The time required for treatment depends on the complexity of your tumor. The average treatment time is 1 to 2 hours.

During treatment, the CyberKnife system will periodically take x-ray images and compare them to data from the CT/MRI scan to ensure the radiation is accurately targeting the tumor.

After treatment, you'll be free to go. Many patients feel good enough to resume daily activities right away.

  • Where do I go? CyberKnife Center at St. Joseph's Hospital
  • How long will it take? Each treatment appointment usually lasts two hours. Your doctor will determine how many treatments you will need.

Step 7: Follow-up

After your CyberKnife treatments, follow-up imaging and doctor's visits will be required to monitor your progress. This will be discussed with you at the time of treatment.