Bruce Pollock, M.D., Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic: Stereotactic radiosurgery is an outpatient-based radiation procedure. You're going to walk in, have this done, and walk out again. And that's the way we want people to think about radiosurgery.
There's a variety of devices that are used to perform stereotactic radiosurgery. The Gamma Knife is used only to treat the brain and head and upper neck, whereas the linear accelerators are more versatile and can also be used to treat the head, but can treat below the neck and the parts of the body as well.
Mayo Clinic expertise
Ian Parney, M.D., Ph.D., Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic: One of the things that we have, of course, is a tremendous amount of experience.
Dr. Pollock: The radiosurgical procedures require the input of multiple physicians and physicists.
Debbie Dixon, Mayo Clinic Patient: I was very comfortable and confident, and felt very reassured with his expertise.
Dr. Pollock: We've been performing radiosurgery for 25 years. The cumulative experience of the neurosurgeons, the radiation oncologists and our physicists is well over 100 years of experience. We've treated more than 7,000 patients with a wide variety of problems.
Dr. Parney: As in most things, experience matters. And when you have a lot of experience, you get better at treating the common things, and you get better at treating the uncommon things.
Mayo Clinic care
Dr. Parney: One of the things that also sets us apart is that we are not married to one technology.
Dr. Pollock: Essentially, we look at you in a sense of, is radiosurgery appropriate for you?
Dr. Parney: It's not infrequent that I will see somebody who's referred for radiosurgery that I say, maybe we should think about doing something else, and at least present those options so that people can hear, what are the benefits? What are the risks of doing all this? And make a decision for themselves that works best for them, that's going to get the best care.
Ms. Dixon: I ask a lot of questions. And I never felt rushed. I felt very respected. I felt that I was being spoken to as a peer.
Dr. Pollock: The nurses and everyone involved at the actual site on the day of your procedure have been doing this for years. We know you're nervous, and our goal is to make you not nervous.
Ms. Dixon: There was someone there who said, if you'd like to hold my hand, I'm here for you. And I held her hand, and I squeezed it. They were caring, compassionate. But what I like is the way they spoke. It was not something that I couldn't understand. It wasn't scary. They used everyday terminology, and that meant a lot to me, and it meant a lot to my husband.
Dr. Parney: This is never just another day at the office for any of us when we're seeing people. This is a huge impact on somebody's life, a major life event, and it's a tremendous privilege to be involved with that. And I think one of the most wonderful things for me working here is it everybody knows that, and everybody is on the side of saying, we are doing this all for patients.