Centura Health, the Colorado and western Kansas region’s health care leader, recently became the first health system in the Rocky Mountain region and only the fourth in the nation to use the innovative Zap-X radiosurgery system to non-invasively treat brain tumors.
The outpatient procedure was first performed at Littleton Adventist Hospital on a 71-year-old man with a benign tumor that was causing symptoms affecting his quality of life.
Using Zap-X, Dr. Adair Prall with Neurosurgery One, a Centura clinic based at Littleton Adventist, was able to focus intense beams of radiation to treat the tumor while avoiding healthy surrounding tissue. The technology can be used to treat many types of brain tumors and other conditions in the brain, head and neck.
“The patient lies down and feels nothing during a 15-to-45 minute treatment. They then get up from the table and continue their day as planned,” Dr. Prall says.
For that first patient at Littleton Adventist, Bill Lawson of Edwards, Colo., the comfort and convenience of the procedure came as a surprise.
“I wasn’t expecting to feel so good. When they told me to sit up after being pulled out of the machine, I felt great. I stood up, talked to everyone, and walked out the front doors.”
Previously, Dr. Prall performed this procedure using the well-known Gamma Knife technology, but with Zap-X, he and Littleton Adventist Hospital are able to offer patients superior outcomes.
“Several studies suggest its accuracy actually exceeds the Gamma Knife, which was previously the benchmark,” says Dr. Prall, who has since treated six other patients using the Zap-X. Radiosurgery can be used to treat patients with trigeminal neuralgia, brain tumors, and other types of benign tumors such as acoustic neuromas.
Unlike Gamma Knife, Zap-X uses a moving linear accelerator, rotating in two arcs to precisely target the tumor in a way that existing machines cannot achieve, and without the need for cobalt radioactive sources, as in the Gamma Knife. It is also easier for patients, with no need for an invasive head frame using pins in the skull, and eliminates the need for a patient to spend a prolonged amount of time inside a concrete “bunker” during treatment.
Patients must meet certain criteria to be eligible for Zap-X. The type of tumor in Lawson’s case is known to cause pain, dizziness, balance issues, and hearing loss. It was located on the main nerve leading between the inner ear and brain.
Lawson, an electrical contractor with a passion for outdoor activities like windsurfing and skiing, said maintaining his high quality of life was extremely important. After the Zap-X procedure, “I was out on the lake the next day,” he said.