How Cyberknife works
The Cyberknife system is a novel, revolutionary achievement in the medical field - it combines two modern advancements in medical high technology.
The first innovation consists of a particularly lightweight and compact radiation device mounted on a robotic arm. The precision robot - which is also used in the automobile industry - can move freely in 6 plains.
Thus all body parts can be accessed without problems for an optimal treatment. The system is clearly more flexible in handling and hence more effective than conventional systems.
Image guidance system
The second innovation consists of a computer assisted image guidance targeting system. With this technology the Cyberknife can target the tumor throughout the treatment and smaller patient movements can be compensated for.
Thus it is no longer necessary to fix the head of the patient in a frame, to immobilize the body or to administer anaesthesia, as is required for conventional systems.
The third technical innovation relates to the capability of the treatment beam to follow moving targets. This is particularly important for tumors in the lung, liver and renal gland as they move considerably with breathing. In conventional radiation therapy patients are therefore put into fixating devices and a larger margin around the lesion is applied to be certain to hit the target during treatment. Sometimes the patient is even put into breath arrest during beam on times.
Cyberknife does not need these rather cumbersome techniques: External breathing is monitored with a infrared camera and correlated with the internal tumor motion. The robot is following then the tumor during treatment and one can say Cyberknife is breathing with the patient. The technology is adapting to the patient and not the other way as in conventional systems.