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​UPMC OnTopic English Transcript

Spine Radiosurgery: An Alternative Approach

Peter C. Gerszten, MD, MPH, FACS
Professor of Neurological Surgery and Radiation Oncology

Jessica Hockley, PA-C
Physician Assistant


Radiosurgery involves the ability to focus radiation beams to a very small target inside of the body in such a way that the beams add up over time to a large amount of energy that kills the tumor cells. Once the tumor cells are dead they will never grow back. Furthermore, because the radiation beams are so highly targeted, they do not in any way interfere or damage normal structures of the body.

Experience and Technology
The spine radiosurgery program at UPMC is one of the most renowned in the world. It comes from experience and technology that we have developed here in Pittsburgh over the course of 10 years. UPMC has been considered the center of intracranial radiosurgery in the world for over 25 years. It was from that great experience in intracranial radiosurgery that has laid the strong foundation for extracrnial radiosurgery treatments. Our team includes a skilled team of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologist, medical physicists and supportive specialists such as myself, working very closely together for our patients. We use the most advanced technology in the world for spine radiosurgery treatments.

Advantages of Spine Radiosurgery
There are several very important advantages of spine radiosurgery over traditional or conventional open neurosurgical procedures. First and foremost is that it is completely painless, it is bloodless, it is very minimally invasive, it can be done as an outpatient in usually less than an hour and there’s absolutely no recovery time associated with the procedure. Our patients frequently fly home the very next day. We carefully coordinate with each patient and their family travel arrangements and accommodations while in Pittsburgh and take them through the procedure step by step.

Successes of Spine Radiosurgery
Over the past decade we have treated thousands of patients who have come from all over the world for us to treat with spine tumors. Our widely published research demonstrates overall success rates after spine radiosurgery of almost 100% without significant complications. I am proud to say that our team here in Pittsburgh literally wrote the book on spine radiosurgery. We have enjoyed caring for patients from around the world who have come to UPMC for what I believe is the very best spine radiosurgery care available.

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