What to Expect

An effective, less disruptive treatment option

The CyberKnife® System uses an approach called SRS, delivering precisely targeted high doses of radiation with extreme accuracy. The system uses an image-guided linear accelerator mounted on a robot that synchronizes the delivery of radiation with the tumor motion in real-time throughout treatment. This enables the CyberKnife System to maintain sub-millimeter accuracy and minimize radiation dose to the healthy, sensitive tissues surrounding the tumor and the spinal cord to reduce the risk of the most common side effects associated with other treatment options.


CyberKnife treatment is an outpatient procedure that does not require incisions or general anesthesia. Most patients will not require hospitalization or a long recovery period.


CyberKnife treatment is typically completed in 1-5 visits in 1-2 weeks, compared to 10-15 sessions over 2-3 weeks with conventional radiation therapy.


The CyberKnife System delivers the required radiation dose to the tumor with sub-millimeter precision, helping to reduce radiation exposure to the spinal cord and surrounding healthy tissues.

A faster return to everyday life

With CyberKnife treatment, the majority of patients can continue normal activity during and immediately following treatment — compared to the typical recovery period that comes with traditional surgical treatments. Just as importantly, the CyberKnife System can help reduce the risk of common side effects and complications associated with other radiotherapy treatments or surgery, helping you to get back to a healthy, full life, sooner.

Your CyberKnife treatment process


The CyberKnife System treatment process begins with a consultation with a radiation oncologist who will provide perspective on this treatment option specific to your condition. The physician will review your biopsy results, imaging and other medical conditions.


Spine tumor treatment with the CyberKnife® System involves a multi-disciplinary team approach, which may include several specialists:

  • Neurosurgeon
  • Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Medical Physicist
  • Medical Oncologist
  • Radiation Therapist
  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Dosimetrist
  • Medical Support Staff


As part of the preparation process, you may be fitted for a personalized body cradle designed specifically to make treatment more comfortable for you while ensuring your body position is the same for each imaging and treatment session.

If the tumor is in the upper cervical region, you may also be fitted for a customized mesh face mask.

Once you are fitted for the body cradle and mask, if required, imaging – such as CT, MRI and/or PET scans – will be performed to help determine the exact size, shape and location of your spine tumor, as well as nearby anatomy.


Using imaging data, your treatment team will determine the area to be targeted by radiation, the radiation dose, and identify critical structures — such as the spinal cord or vital organs – where radiation should be avoided.

The medical physicist will then calculate a precision-optimized radiation delivery plan, leveraging the extreme maneuverability of the CyberKnife System to deliver a safe and accurate treatment.


Approximately one to two weeks after your treatment plan is finalized, you will begin treatment session(s). There are usually 1-5 treatment sessions of short duration delivered in 1-2 weeks.

During the treatment session, you will wear your custom-fitted mask and will lay in the personalized body cradle, if these have been created for you. The CyberKnife System’s computer-controlled robot will move around your body to various locations from which it will deliver radiation. The system will automatically synchronize and adapt delivery of the radiation beam with patient and tumor movement.

Treatment sessions are non-invasive outpatient procedures, and nothing will be required of you during treatment. No patient restraints. No breath holds. No anesthesia.


Most patients experience minimal side effects and can quickly return to their daily routines with little interruption to their normal activities.

Your medical team will discuss all possible side effects prior to treatment and may prescribe medication to control any side effects, should they occur. You also should schedule and attend any follow-up appointments.

Learn More About Side Effects

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Educating others about your experience with the CyberKnife® System can help others who face similar decisions about their own cancer treatment choices.

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Please note: Accuray is the manufacturer of the CyberKnife®, TomoTherapy®, and Radixact® Systems. As the manufacturer, we are unable to provide specific medical advice, view medical records, or schedule appointments.
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Important Safety Statement: Most side effects of radiotherapy, including radiotherapy delivered with Accuray systems, are mild and temporary, often involving fatigue, nausea, and skin irritation. Side effects can be severe, however, leading to pain, alterations in normal body functions (for example, urinary or salivary function), deterioration of quality of life, permanent injury and even death. Side effects can occur during or shortly after radiation treatment or in the months and years following radiation. The nature and severity of side effects depend on many factors, including the size and location of the treated tumor, the treatment technique (for example, the radiation dose), the patient’s general medical condition, to name a few. For more details about the side effects of your radiation therapy, and if treatment with an Accuray product is right for you, ask your doctor.