Frequently Asked Questions
You need answers and we’re here to help. At Northern Westchester Hospital, we're helping to improve patient outcomes with leading-edge, non-invasive technologies like Novalis and Gamma Knife at our Stereotactic Radiosurgery Center.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery is a non-invasive treatment option for a variety of cancerous and non-cancerous conditions, including tumors that may otherwise be deemed untreatable. Our team of stereotactic radiosurgery experts use both Gamma Knife Perfexion and Novalis to deliver precise, painless radiation treatments deep inside malignant and non-malignant lesions.
Novalis radiosurgery works by combining a high-powered radiation delivery system with cutting-edge imaging technology and robotic motion management tools.
Unlike with traditional surgery, no incisions are needed, and healthy tissue surrounding the treatment site is protected.
Novalis Radiosurgery is a proven, non-invasive treatment option that is fast, effective, and available to patients with a wide variety of cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, lesions, and conditions.
Unlike traditional radiation delivery systems that use circular radiation beams, the Novalis system uses ground-breaking radiation beam shaping technology. This ensures that the entire tumor or lesion is treated with the optimal radiation dose while preventing unwanted damage to surrounding, healthy tissues.
Here at Northern Westchester Hospital, our team of skilled neurosurgeons use the Novalis system to treat malignant and non-malignant tumors, including:
- Pituitary adenomas
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
- Metastatic brain tumors
- Spinal tumors and metastases to the spine
- Tumors of the liver, lung, and prostate
Most patients are referred to the NWH Stereotactic Radiosurgery department by their family doctors or neurologists, although we also accept self-referrals.
The Novalis radiosurgery system offers patients who require radiation a safe, non-invasive FDA-approved treatment option. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) was first developed in 1949, and since that time, SRS has been used at leading medical centers worldwide to treat challenging conditions such as metastatic cancers and inoperable tumors.
Treatment with Novalis is painless and non-invasive. Patients being treated for conditions above the neck are fitted with a lightweight, transparent mask that is more comfortable and less invasive than the traditional head ring used for circular-beam radiation treatments. Some patients may experience minor headaches and dizziness immediately following treatment; these side-effects are temporary and rarely last more than a few hours.
In most cases, Novalis treatments take less than 30 minutes. Depending on your specific condition, you may have a single treatment, or you may be treated over a series of sessions with fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy.
Because Novalis treatments are non-invasive, painless, and incision-free, general anesthesia is not needed. Your doctor may prescribe a mild sedative to help you relax during the treatment.
Most Novalis treatments are performed on an outpatient basis, and no hospital stay is needed.
No. Unlike traditional surgery, Stereotactic Radiosurgery using the Novalis system completely eliminates the need for incisions, shaving, or scars.
Patients who undergo Novalis treatments typically return to their regular daily activities within a few days.
Because radiation works by damaging cancerous and/or diseased cells in order to promote cell death (apoptosis) while preserving healthy cells, the effects of Novalis treatments can take up to six months to appear on follow-up imaging.
As an FDA-approved, clinically-proven treatment option, both Novalis and Gamma Knife Perfexion radiosurgery is covered under most major health insurance plans.
Please call Northern Westchester Hospital’s Stereotactic Radiosurgery Center at 914-242-8113.
Gamma Knife FAQs
The Gamma Knife Perfexion is not actually a knife at all. It is a stereotactic radiosurgery device or cyberknife that uses up to 192 beams of cobalt-60 radiation to treat a variety of brain diseases and abnormalities in a single (one day) patient visit. Gamma Knife radiosurgery treatment provides non-invasive, extremely precise “surgical or knife-like” treatment with no incisions or general anesthesia.
Utilizing advanced diagnostic imaging and three-dimensional treatment planning software, Gamma Knife delivers up to 192 precisely focused beams of gamma radiation to small targets inside the brain and surrounding structures. The individual beams are weak, and pass through healthy tissue leaving it unharmed. Radiation treatment is only delivered at a single, finely focused point where all 192 beams converge to treat the diseased tissue, while nearby healthy tissue is spared. Click here to learn more about how gamma knife perfexion works.
Gamma Knife Perfexion radiosurgery has many benefits. It’s bloodless, painless, requires no hair removal or head shaving, and has a rapid return to pre-treatment activities with no or very little need for rehabilitative services. This single (one) session outpatient procedure does not require the use of general anesthesia, and is usually covered by most major health insurance companies, including Medicare. Gamma Knife surgery has excellent, long-term well-documented clinical outcomes for a variety of conditions, and has treated over 700,000 patients worldwide.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery treatment is often used in conjunction with surgery, other forms of radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, or it can be used as a primary form of treatment. Patients who cannot or do not wish to undergo surgical procedures may be candidates for Gamma Knife. Gamma Knife treatment can also be used when other treatment methods have failed to control a disease, if there is recurrent disease, or for inoperable disease. Learn more about gamma knife perfexion treatment with our treatment guide.
Malignant Brain Tumors:
- Single and multiple brain metastases (cancer spread to the brain)
- Malignant Glial Tumors (Grade III & IV)
- Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
- Other malignant tumors
Benign Brain Tumors:
- Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma)
- Trigeminal Schwannoma
- Other Schwannoma tumors
- Benign Glial Tumors (Grade I & II)
- Pituitary Adenoma (Secreting and Non-secreting)
- Pineal Region Tumors
- Glomus Tumor
- Other benign tumors
- Trigeminal Neuralgia (Tic Douloureux / Facial Pain)
- Essential Tremor
- Pain secondary to cancer
- Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs)
- Cavernous Malformations
- Uveal Melanoma
Current Research Indications:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Gamma Knife Perfexion can also treat head and neck diseases
- Nasal cavity
- Lip, mouth, or salivary glands
- Throat, pharynx, or larynx
Our multidisciplinary Gamma Knife team will review each patient’s:
- Medical and Surgical History
- Clinical Examination information
- Imaging studies, such as MRI, CT and/or PET scans
The effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery occur over several months to several years, depending on the type of medical condition treated. The treatment goal of radiosurgery with the Gamma Knife Perfexion is control. For tumors, radiation alters the DNA of the tissue being treated so that the cells no longer reproduce, eventually rendering the lesion static. Some abnormalities may shrink, while others simply exhibit no further growth. For vascular disease, the goal of treatment is total obliteration (or occlusion) of the blood flow through the abnormal vessels until they are no longer visible on imaging. The radiation treatment causes the abnormal vessels to swell, eventually cutting off blood flow through them over time. For functional disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia facial pain, the goal of treatment is reduction of and/or freedom from pain and medications. The effectiveness of the treatment is monitored by MRI scans or other forms of imaging at regular intervals.