Atlas-based functional radiosurgery: Early results

J. Stancanello, P. Romanelli, E. Pantelis, F. Sebastiano, N. Modugno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional disorders of the brain, such as dystonia and neuropathic pain, may respond poorly to medical therapy. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the globus pallidus pars interna (GPi) and the centromedian nucleus of the thalamus (CMN) may alleviate dystonia and neuropathic pain, respectively. A noninvasive alternative to DBS is radiosurgical ablation [internal pallidotomy (IP) and medial thalamotomy (MT)]. The main technical limitation of radiosurgery is that targets are selected only on the basis of MRI anatomy, without electrophysiological confirmation. This means that, to be feasible, image-based targeting must be highly accurate and reproducible. Here, we report on the feasibility of an atlas-based approach to targeting for functional radiosurgery. In this method, masks of the GPi, CMN, and medio-dorsal nucleus were nonrigidly registered to patients' T1-weighted MRI (T1w-MRI) and superimposed on patients' T2-weighted MRI (T2w-MRI). Radiosurgical targets were identified on the T2w-MRI registered to the planning CT by an expert functional neurosurgeon. To assess its feasibility, two patients were treated with the CyberKnife using this method of targeting; a patient with dystonia received an IP (120 Gy prescribed to the 65% isodose) and a patient with neuropathic pain received a MT (120 Gy to the 77% isodose). Six months after treatment, T2w-MRIs and contrast-enhanced T1w-MRIs showed edematous regions around the lesions; target placements were reevaluated by DW-MRIs. At 12 months post-treatment steroids for radiation-induced edema and medications for dystonia and neuropathic pain were suppressed. Both patients experienced significant relief from pain and dystonia-related problems. Fifteen months after treatment edema had disappeared. Thus, this work shows promising feasibility of atlas-based functional radiosurgery to improve patient condition. Further investigations are indicated for optimizing treatment dose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-463
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Functional radiosurgery
  • Internal pallidotomy
  • Medial thalamotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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