Find your care
In the UCLA Neuromodulation for Movement Disorders and Pain Program, stereotactic radiosurgery is used as a treatment option for essential tremor and trigeminal neuralgia, a pain disorder. When you choose our program, your care is in the hands of the most expert team in Los Angeles. Our multidisciplinary approach brings together neurosurgeons, neurologists and radiation oncologists. Meet our team.
What is stereotactic radiosurgery?
Stereotactic radiosurgery is a noninvasive, outpatient operation that delivers high focal radiation on a target - such as lesions on the brain or the trigeminal nerve - without damaging the surrounding brain and spine.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is different from traditional radiotherapy because radiation is delivered in a very focused manner, sparing the rest of the brain from significant radiation exposure. Stereotactic radiosurgery delivers the radiation in one session. Unlike most techniques for stereotactic radiosurgery, at UCLA, we use an advanced image-guided frameless technique to deliver this precise radiation so that we don't have to fix a frame to your head.
Stereotactic radiosurgery for essential tremor
Thalamotomy by stereotactic radiosurgery is an effective treatment option for involuntary movements associated with essential tremor. Using this procedure, a very high dose of focused energy is delivered to a precise part of the thalamus, an area of the brain that regulates movement. This is the same part of the brain that is targeted with deep brain stimulation.
Stereotactic radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia
Stereotactic radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia focuses radiation on the trigeminal nerve, damaging it enough to block pain signals to the brain. This procedure has a success rate of greater than 70 percent and has few side effects. Pain may return in up to 50 percent of patients, who can be treated again.
What happens during stereotactic radiosurgery?
No incisions are necessary with stereotactic radiosurgery. You can expect:
- A very detailed and precise MRI of your brain that your doctor will use to plan precisely where to deliver the radiation
- A special CT scan of your head with a mask helps your doctor keep track of your head during treatment and precisely deliver radiation to the right spot
- UCLA's Novalis Shaped Beam Surgery system, considered the Gold Standard for shaped-beam radiosurgery, will focus high doses of radiation on the target site
What to expect after stereotactic radiosurgery
After this non-invasive treatment, patients are able to walk out of the clinic and carry on with their lives right away. Because it is non-invasive, it can take between 2 days and 6 weeks before you may see any benefits. Most patients who respond to therapy have long-term improvement. In some cases, symptoms can return and the treatment may need to be repeated.
Interested in stereotactic radiosurgery at UCLA? Get prepared for your first appointment.