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Program Specialties

Intraoperative MRI Suite

Smilow Cancer Hospital’s intraoperative MRI suite is one of only a few such units in the world and the only in the state of Connecticut . It features a powerful MRI that allows neurosurgeons to take real time images during the operation. Without moving the patient, the doctors can more precisely target the tumor's position, see what areas need protection, and determine the extent to which the tumor has been removed and whether there were any complications.

Previously, patients needing brain surgery received a pre-surgical MRI in an imaging suite; then were brought to the operating suite for surgery. Hours, or sometimes days after surgery, the patient would have a follow-up MRI to determine the effectiveness of the surgery. Only then would the surgeon be able to fully appreciate the extent of tumor removal and decide whether repeat surgery or other therapies are needed. Smilow’s advanced multi-modality image guided surgical suite provides high quality images and data in real time, allowing physicians to target problem areas more quickly and effectively. And because of the rapid imaging speed, less contrast dye is required.

As with all care at Smilow Cancer Hospital, the intraoperative MRI allows the patient to be the central focus of every procedure and permits the highest quality of outcomes.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is a special form of radiation therapy used to treat benign and malignant brain tumors, blood vessel abnormalities of the brain and some neurologic conditions. Because the technologies used for SRS enable physicians and technicians to focus delivery accurately within millimeters, precise doses of radiation are delivered directly and only to the targeted area. Sometimes the total dose is divided into two or more sessions, called fractions, in order to deliver an adequate total dose to the tumor while minimizing the effect on the rest of the body.

SRS can be used to treat:

  • Brain tumors
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Skull base tumors (including meningioma and schwannoma)
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM)
  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Movement Disorders

SRS has been shown to offer the following advantages over surgical treatment:

  • Minimally invasive – no incision
  • An option for some tumors that cannot be reached safely by traditional open surgery
  • The ability to perform certain procedures as an outpatient without an overnight stay in the hospital
  • A rapid return to normal activities, in most cases

Yale physicians have treated 5,000 patients from the state of Connecticut and beyond with stereotactic radiosurgery since 1991, when this treatment was initially offered to patients on a modified linear accelerator. We currently treat between 3 and 12 patients each week with radiosurgery. The team that provides stereotactic radio surgery includes not only a radiation oncologist and a neurosurgeon, but also a physicist and a nurse. Stereotactic radiosurgery is very rarely associated with complications, and each patient’s case is different, so that all discussions of possible complications should occur with the neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist at the time of the initial consultation.

For more information on Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy, please refer to FAQ's.