For patients in the Tri-Cities and all across the Southeast, Bristol Regional Medical Center now offers hope where there once was none.

A new CyberKnife Stereotactic Radiosurgery System housed in the hospital’s expanded cancer center utilizes state-of-the-art robotic technology to treat life-threatening tumors that would otherwise be inoperable.

A grand opening and dedication ceremony for the technology was held today.

“CyberKnife takes the fight against cancer and other devastating diseases to an entirely new level,” said Bart Hove, president of Bristol Regional. “With this incredible tool, our physicians can save lives that, until now, would almost certainly have been lost.

“In the few short weeks since the Bristol Regional CyberKnife became operational, we’ve already treated more than a dozen patients – people not just from our own community but also men and women from cities and towns that are hours away. As one of a handful of hospitals around the country offering the CyberKnife technology, Bristol Regional has quickly emerged as a national leader in cutting-edge cancer care.”

Bristol Regional is one of just 16 hospitals nationwide to offer the innovative CyberKnife system, joining such institutions as Stanford University Medical Center and Georgetown University Hospital on the leading edge of medicine.

The CyberKnife represents a $4 million investment in medical technology. Purchase of the CyberKnife was made possible, in part, by a donation from J.D. and Lorraine Nicewonder of Bristol.

“Through the kindness of the Nicewonders and the commitment of our fine medical personnel, we’ve brought the brightest hope in cancer care to the people of our region,” said Ron Prewitt, chairman of the Wellmont Health System board of directors. “Eight years ago, when Wellmont Health System was created, that’s what we set out to do – to take what was strong and make it stronger.

“I know we are achieving that goal and achieving our vision to be a national model of excellence for the provision of healthcare and wellness services.”

Manufactured by Accuray Inc., the CyberKnife employs image-guided technology similar to that used by the military to target cruise missiles. A lightweight linear accelerator attached to a robotic arm generates up to 100 beams of radiation that attack diseased tissue.

Because the radiation is delivered with sub-millimeter accuracy, tumors and other abnormalities receive a concentrated dose of radiation, but the impact on surrounding normal tissue is minimized. The CyberKnife allows physicians to treat tumors throughout the body – including tumors that once would have been inoperable. Treatment is completely non-invasive, requires no anesthesia and is usually completed on an outpatient basis.


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