Gamma Knife vs. CyberKnife: What’s the Difference?

Gamma Knife ICON - Doctors with patient
Drs. D'Ambrosio and DeYoung in the Valle Gamma Knife ICON suite positioning a patient

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a condition of the brain or head, it is likely your doctor has recommended stereotactic radiosurgery as a treatment option.

Gamma Knife and CyberKnife are two popular forms of stereotactic radiosurgery and while they are similar, there are differences to consider when choosing the right treatment option for you. Read on to learn more about Gamma Knife vs CyberKnife. 

What is Gamma Knife?

Though the name may sound like a surgical procedure, Gamma Knife is actually an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses multiple focused beams of high dose radiation to target a highly specific area.

Because it is so focused, Gamma Knife does not affect as much of the surrounding tissue as traditional radiation therapy, such as whole brain radiation, resulting in fewer side effects. Additionally, because it is completely noninvasive, it does not carry any of the risks associated with traditional surgery, has less post-procedural pain and has a minimal recovery period.

What is CyberKnife?

CyberKnife treats tumors by focusing photons (X-rays) at the tumor. It may reduce or eliminate a tumor in just a few treatment sessions. 

The CyberKnife machine has a robotic arm that is able to move around the patient, accessing the tumor from different angles which increases the number of positions that it can administer radiation to the treatment area. This also minimized dose to healthy tissue surrounding the treatment area.

What’s the Difference? 


Both technologies deliver stereotactic radiosurgery to treat cancerous and noncancerous tumors and are minimally invasive. However, Gamma Knife is highly targeted and designed specifically for tumors in the brain – and when it comes to the brain, precision is critical. Gamma Knife’s long track record as a leader in brain tumor treatment, backed by years of research, makes it the ideal choice for patients. CyberKnife was designed to treat not only the brain and head but other parts of the body as well. 


Another distinguishing factor is the mobility of the patient during the procedure. When undergoing Gamma Knife, the patient has to be placed in a head frame, to ensure no movement in order to dose the radiation as accurately as possible. When undergoing CyberKnife, no head frame is necessary, non-rigid immobilization is used instead. 

Duration of Treatment 

Risks and side effects for both treatments are similar, as they are both minimally invasive. While Gamma Knife is generally treated in as little as one treatment session, CyberKnife is typically completed in 1-5 sessions that are spread out over a few weeks. This could be a hardship on some patients. 

Overview of Gamma Knife vs CyberKnife

CyberKnife is a more recent invention than Gamma Knife radiosurgery and seems to be more comfortable for patients, but Gamma Knife is typically done in fewer sessions and delivers higher accuracy, in our view. Both have been used by neurosurgeons in recent years and are viable treatment options.

Next Steps 

If your doctor has recommended Gamma Knife as a treatment for your condition, contact The Valley Gamma Knife Center to learn more about our state-of-the-art Gamma Knife technology and if it is right for you. A Nurse Navigator will be happy to assist you. 

Get Your Questions Answered, By a Real Person.

Our Patient Liaison is here to help you understand your next step. After discussing your specific case, she can help you navigate your medical records, answer insurance questions, and connect you with one of our nurses, at no charge to you.