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Key Differences Between Gamma Knife and CyberKnife Treatment – Procedure, Side-effects, Costs and more

For patients looking for alternatives to surgery for brain tumour treatment, the two primary treatments available are CyberKnife and Gamma Knife. Both procedures provide a non-invasive alternative to surgery by using radiation technology. Both procedures are used to deliver stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) treatments to address tumours, vascular lesions, and functional disorders, such as trigeminal neuralgia or Arteriovenous malformation (AVM). Functionally, they are both very similar in the use of small beams of radiation that are carefully programmed via the aid of diagnostic imaging such as CAT and MRI scans, then locked onto a target to converge on a finely pinpointed spot (a tumour).

Although both therapies are highly targeted, their similarities end there. For patients, it’s important to make a clear distinction between either of the two treatments. Both Gamma Knife and CyberKnife have their advantages and drawbacks (depending on the application): For instance, Gamma Knife is limited to only treating cancer above the ear and in the cervical spine. On the other hand, CyberKnife is capable of treating cancer throughout the entire body.

To make plain key differences, this article looks at various characteristics of each procedure to help patients make an informed decision of the line of treatment they should choose.


Principle Differences:

  1. Possibly the biggest difference between CyberKnife and Gamma Knife is that Gamma Knife requires a large metal frame to be mounted onto the patient’s head with screws before and during treatment. One the other hand, CyberKnife is a non-invasive and pain-free procedure that allows patients to lie comfortably on a treatment couch while the robotic arm delivers high doses of radiation around the patient.  

  2. As CyberKnife is an entirely non-invasive procedure it requires no general or local anaesthesia during the procedure. This is not the case with Gamma Knife.

  3. CyberKnife has the ability to approach a tumour in various parts of the body from over 1,300 positions with pinpoint sub-millimetre accuracy. Gamma Knife on the other hand is limited to the brain and cervical spinal and can approach from a limited of 190 positions.

  4. Gamma Knife has the ability to target a tumour with a single treatment of high-dose radiation. On the other hand, Cyberknife can treat a tumour with up to five low doses of radiation. Clinical trials have shown that lower doses of radiation have fewer after-effects on nearby organs and healthy tissues.


Advantages of Gamma Knife

Due to the advanced nature of CyberKnife treatment, it is generally perceived to be the better of the two procedures; nonetheless, there are a significant number of benefits that Gamma Knife has over CyberKnife that are worth considering.   

  1. Without a doubt the biggest benefit for patients is the reduced possibility of radiation induced complications. Gamma Knife can boast up to 100x less radiation to the body than Cyberknife.

  2. Another advantage of Gamma Knife is the radiologic accuracy by means of targeted beams which are lower than 0.3mm (lower is better). On the other hand, CyberKnife has a Radiologic accuracy of about 1mm, which results in doses of radiation outside the target area being almost 4-6x more than Gamma Knife.

  3. Gamma Knife uses a rigid immobilizer to prevent head movement using a lightweight stereotactic head frame fixed to the outer skull. This frame prevents movement during the procedure and provides exact MR and CT correlation from planning to treatment delivery in 3D.

  4. Lastly, the Gamma Knife treatment takes all but one day. Unlike Cyberknife, where patient may be called for multiple treatments, possibly over a period of days.  


Advantages of CyberKnife

By contrast, the CyberKnife system is a newer technology than Gamma Knife. It employs the help of an extremely precise monitoring system which updates the position of the body in real time allowing the CyberKnife robotics to accurately compensate for normal patient movement. Let’s look at a few benefits of CyberKnife that are worth assessing.

  1. The biggest advantage of CyberKnife is that it is very patient-friendly. It does away with awkward head frames or any other kind of body movement restrictors and employs precise monitoring systems to update the position of the body in real time allowing it to accurately compensate for normal patient movement.

  2. CyberKnife treatment offers greater flexibility in eliminating cancerous cells. The treatment plan, along with all imaging and scans, is completed days before any actual treatment begins. After the scans, the radiation oncologist develops a customized plan of treatment. Much like Gamma Knife, CyberKnife can be administered by a single, high dose of radiation, however, it leaves more options in planning radiation therapy sessions.

  3. CyberKnife has pinpoint precision much like Gamma Knife; however, it can treat tumours from virtually any angle, pain-free and non-invasively. Where Gamma Knife is only limited to 190 positions, CyberKnife on the other hand can approach a tumour from over 1,300 positions.



Side Effects of Both Procedures

Though both procedures carry less risk and result in fewer side effects than traditional radiation methods, there are still side effects to be aware of. These include:

  • Headache and nausea, which typically only lasts a few days and can be alleviated with medication.

  • Delayed swelling following treatment of the brain, which can be treated using prescription medications.

  • Fatigue


Recovery Time for Both Procedures

Both Gamma Knife and CyberKnife are done in an outpatient setting. This means patients do not have to stay overnight in the hospital. Owing to the non-invasive nature of both treatments, there is virtually no recovery timelines. Patients generally can be seen back in normal activity within 2-3 days. Most patients are released from the treatment centre within a few hours of completing treatment.


Cost of Both Procedures

  • The estimated cost of CyberKnife treatment in India would be between $7000- $8,000 (USD). The price includes hospital stay, surgeon fee, medicines, nursing care and food.

  • The estimated cost of Gamma Knife treatment in India would be between $6,000- $6,400 (USD). The price includes hospital stay, surgeon fee, medicines, nursing care and food.


*Note: For details on specific cost of Cyberknife and Gamma Knife Treatment in India, speak to a Vaidam Case Manager.


Contact Us for Advanced Cancer Treatment

If you would like to know more about stereotactic radiosurgery, the benefits, and the applicability of the treatment method for you, call us at +91-9650-001-746. You can also fill out our contact form and our compassionate and knowledgeable staff will be happy to assist you.



Author Name
Dr. Kavreen Arora

Published Date
: 14-Sep-2018

Dr. Kavreen Arora

Dr. Kavreen studied medicine and actively practised for few years before she decided to share her knowledge through medical blogs and articles. Since then, Dr. Kavreen has written several articles about the recent advances in various medical treatments, life expectancies, and the best hospitals & doctors across the nation. 

She is a keen observer and likes to keep herself updated with the new technologies. She is an avid reader and an earnest writer in the medical field.

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