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Martina Descovich, Penny K. Sneed, Nicholas M. Barbaro, Michael W. McDermott, Cynthia F. Chuang, Igor J. Barani, Jean L. Nakamura, and Lijun Ma


The Leksell Gamma Knife and the Accuray CyberKnife systems have been used in the radiosurgical treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. The 2 techniques use different delivery methods and different treatment parameters. In the past, CyberKnife treatments have been associated with an increased incidence of treatment-related complications, such as facial numbness. The goal of this study was to develop a method for planning a CyberKnife treatment for trigeminal neuralgia that would reproduce the dosimetric characteristics of a Gamma Knife plan. A comparison between Gamma Knife and CyberKnife treatment plans obtained with this method is presented.


Five patients treated using the Gamma Knife Perfexion Unit were selected for this study. All patients underwent CT cisternography to accurately identify the position of the trigeminal nerve. The Gamma Knife plans used either one 4-mm-diameter collimator or two coincident 4-mm collimators (one open and one with sector blocking) placed at identical isocenter coordinates. A maximum local dose of 80 Gy was prescribed. Critical structures and representative isodose lines were outlined in GammaPlan and exported to the CyberKnife treatment planning platform. CyberKnife treatments were developed using the 5-mm-diameter cone and the trigeminal node set, which provides an effective collimation diameter of 4 mm at the isocenter. The 60-Gy isodose volume imported from GammaPlan was used as the target in the CyberKnife plans. The CyberKnife treatments were optimized to achieve target dose and critical structure sparing similar to the Gamma Knife plans. Isocentric and nonisocentric delivery techniques were investigated. Treatment plans were compared in terms of dosimetric characteristics, delivery, and planning efficiency.


CyberKnife treatments using the 5-mm cone and the trigeminal node set can closely reproduce the dose distribution of Gamma Knife plans. CyberKnife isocentric and nonisocentric plans provide comparable results. The average length of the trigeminal nerve receiving a dose of 60 Gy was 4.5, 4.5, and 4.4 mm for Gamma Knife, nonisocentric CyberKnife, and isocentric CyberKnife, respectively. However, minimizing the dose to the critical structures was more difficult with the CyberKnife and required the use of tuning structures. In addition, the dose falloff away from the target was steeper in Gamma Knife plans, probably due to the larger number of beams (192 beams for Perfexion vs ~ 100 beams for CyberKnife). While the treatment time with the CyberKnife is generally shorter, the planning time is significantly longer.


CyberKnife radiosurgical parameters can be optimized to mimic the dose distribution of Gamma Knife plans. However, Gamma Knife plans result in superior sparing of critical structures (brainstem, temporal lobe, and cranial nerves VII and VIII) and in steeper dose falloff away from the target. The clinical significance of these effects is unknown.