Patients Guide to Radiosurgery
This guide was developed to help you and your family better understand what to expect on the day of your stereotactic radiosurgical procedure. The information contained in this guide is generally applicable to most patients; every case is slightly different and your doctor will discuss with you the specific aspects of your procedure. If you have any questions at any time, do not hesitate to ask a member of the stereotactic radiosurgery team.
Because you will be undergoing certain radiology tests in the morning, it is important that YOU DO NOT EAT ANYTHING AFTER MIDNIGHT PRIOR TO THE DAY OF YOUR PROCEDURE. You may drink water after midnight.
You will be spending at least 4-6 hours at the hospital on the day of your procedure, so be sure to dress comfortably: loose clothing, comfortable shoes, etc. You are welcome to have up to three people stay with you while you are at the hospital, but please note that it is required that you have someone drive you home after the procedure.
To help pass the time, a variety of video tapes will be available for viewing in a private waiting area. You're invited to bring your own tapes if you prefer. You may also watch TV in the public waiting area. Books, magazines, knitting, etc., are also appropriate to bring with you.
Lunch and snacks will be provided for you and your family/friends. If you have any special dietary needs or restrictions, be sure to let the staff know when you arrive.
Step 1: Arriving at the Hospital
You will arrive at the Radiation Oncology division of UMDNJ-University Hospital at 7:45 am. The Division has a private entrance located at 195 South Orange Avenue. Enter the parking lot off of South Orange Avenue and follow signs to the Radiation Oncology Division. Patient parking is available immediately in front of the entrance.
You will be greeted by a Nurse who will be responsible for your care and comfort throughout the day. He/she will bring you to the stereotactic radiosurgery waiting area and give you a small dose of Valium, which will relax you and help relieve any physical discomfort you may have.
Step 2: Placement of the Head Frame
Soon after your arrival, you will be taken to another room to have the head frame placed by the neurosurgeon. You will be given injections of local anesthetic, two in the front of your head and two in the back. The frame will be secured to pins inserted in those spots. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes.
There is some discomfort associated with this procedure; the anesthetic will relieve most of the pain, but you will still feel a sensation of pressure as the procedure is completed. This discomfort is temporary and you should be pain-free for the rest of the day. Please notify a member of the stereotactic radiosurgery team if you feel any discomfort after the placement of the head frame.
Step 3: Pinpointing the Coordinates
In order to precisely locate and mark the portion of your brain that will be treated with radiation, special x-rays of your head must be taken while the frame is on. All patients will have a CT scan and some will require an MRI scan or angiogram. Your doctor will explain what is needed in your particular case.
You will be brought to the hospital's Imaging Center by wheelchair. The CT Scan will take about 30 minutes to complete; MRIs generally take another 45 minutes, while angiographic procedures can take up to two hours.
Step 4: Waiting
As soon as you are finished in the Imaging Center, you will be brought back to the Stereotactic Radiosurgery waiting area. Lunch for you and your family/friends will be provided at that time.
On average, it will take the Stereotactic Radiosurgery team two and one-half hours to develop your treatment plan based upon the information received from your x-rays. It could take longer, depending upon the particular circumstances of your case. While you are waiting, you may watch a video tape or TV, read, etc. You may continue to use a wheelchair if you wish, or you may walk with assistance from your family/friends.
Step 5: The Radiation Treatment
As soon as the treatment plan has been developed, you will be brought into the linear accelerator room for the treatment. You will lay down on the accelerator gurney, the head frame will be supported, and you will be asked to remain as still as possible. The treatment takes about 30 minutes.
When the treatment is completed, the head frame will be removed. There is some slight discomfort associated with the removal, but it will be much less than what you experienced when the frame was first put on. Small bandages will be applied to the pin insertion sites (the small holes made by the pins will begin to close almost immediately, leaving almost no trace.) You may experience headache pain for a day or two after the procedure. You may take Tylenol or a similar pain reliever if you wish.
Step 6: Leaving the Hospital
Immediately after the radiation treatment, the clinical nurse specialist will talk with you for a few minutes to make sure that you are feeling well enough to leave. He will also call you at home within 24 hours to follow-up on your general condition and to answer any questions you may have.
Your doctor's office will contact you directly to set up an appointment for a follow-up visit. Information about the results of the procedure and any further treatment will be provided to you at that time.
DON'T HESITATE TO ASK...
If you have any questions about the stereotactic radiosurgery procedure, do not hesitate to ask any member of the team, particularly the clinical nurse specialist. We recognize that you and your family are anxious about the treatment and your health and we want to do everything we can to make you more comfortable and informed about stereotactic radiosurgery. If you wish to speak with the Nurse prior to your procedure, you may call (973) 972-5519.