You received stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) or radiotherapy. This is a form of radiation therapy that focuses high-power x-rays onto a small area of your brain or spine.
After you go home, follow your health care provider's instructions on how to care for yourself. Use the information below as a reminder.
If you had pins that held a frame in place, they will be removed before you leave the hospital.
- You may feel some discomfort where the pins used to be. Bandages may be placed over the pin sites.
- You can wash your hair after 24 hours.
- Do not use hair coloring, perms, gels, or other hair products until the sites where the pins were placed are completely healed.
If you had anchors placed, they will be taken out when you have received all of your treatments. While the anchors are in place:
- Clean the anchors and the surrounding skin three times a day.
- Do not wash your hair while the anchors are in place.
- A scarf or a lightweight hat may be worn to cover the anchors.
- When the anchors are removed, you'll have small wounds to care for. Do not wash your hair until any staples or sutures are removed.
- Do not use hair coloring, perms, gels, or other hair products until the sites where the anchors were placed are completely healed.
- Watch the areas where the anchors are still in place or where they were removed for redness and drainage.
If there are no complications, such as swelling, most people return to regular activities the next day. Some people are kept in the hospital overnight for monitoring. You may develop black eyes during the week after surgery, but it is nothing to worry about.
You should be able to eat normal foods after your treatment. Ask your provider about when to return to work.
Medicines to prevent brain swelling, nausea, and pain might be prescribed. Take them as instructed.
You'll most likely need to have an MRI, CT scan, or angiogram a few weeks or months after the procedure. Your provider will schedule your follow-up visit.
You may need additional treatments:
- If you have a brain tumor, you may need steroids, chemotherapy, or open surgery.
- If you have a vascular malformation, you may need open surgery or endovascular surgery.
- If you have trigeminal neuralgia, you may need to take pain medicine.
- If you have a pituitary tumor, you might need hormone replacement medicines.
When to Call the Doctor
Contact your provider if you have:
- Redness, drainage, or worsening pain at the spot where the pins or anchors were placed
- A fever that lasts more than 24 hours
- A headache that is very bad or one that does not get better with time
- Problems with your balance
- Weakness in your face, arms, or legs
- Any changes in your strength, the sensation of your skin, or thinking (confusion, disorientation)
- Excessive fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of sensation in your face
Gamma Knife - discharge; CyberKnife - discharge; Stereotactic radiotherapy - discharge; Fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy - discharge; Cyclotrons - discharge; Linear accelerator - discharge; LINAC - discharge; Proton beam radiosurgery - discharge
Radiological Society of North America website. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/stereotactic. Updated July 30, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2022.
Yu JS, Suh JH, Ma L, Sahgal A. Radiobiology of radiotherapy and radiosurgery. In: Winn HR, ed. Youmans and Winn Neurological Surgery. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 291.
Review Date 7/17/2022
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, FRCS (C), FACS, Department of Surgery, Johnson City Medical Center, TN; Department of Surgery St-Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck, ND; Department of Neurosurgery Fort Sanders Medical Center, Knoxville, TN, Department of Neurosurgery UPMC Williamsport PA, Department of Maxillofacial Surgery at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.