Background: Stereotactic body radiotherapy and radiosurgery are rapidly emerging treatment options for both malignant and benign spine tumors. Proper institutional credentialing by physicians and medical physicists as well as other personnel is important for the safe and effective adoption of spine radiosurgery. This article describes the methods for institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery at seven highly experienced international institutions.
Methods: All institutions (n = 7) are members of the Elekta Spine Radiosurgery Research Consortium and have a dedicated research and clinical focus on image-guided spine radiosurgery. A questionnaire consisting of 24 items covering various aspects of institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery was completed by all seven institutions.
Results: Close agreement was observed in most aspects of spine radiosurgery credentialing at each institution. A formal credentialing process was believed to be important for the implementation of a new spine radiosurgery program, for patient safety and clinical outcomes. One institution has a written policy specific for spine radiosurgery credentialing, but all have an undocumented credentialing system in place. All institutions rely upon an in-house proctoring system for the training of both physicians and medical physicists. Four institutions require physicians and medical physicists to attend corporate sponsored training. Two of these 4 institutions also require attendance at a non-corporate sponsored academic society radiosurgery course. Corporate as well as non-corporate sponsored training were believed to be complimentary and both important for training. In 5 centers, all cases must be reviewed at a multidisciplinary conference prior to radiosurgery treatment. At 3 centers, neurosurgeons are not required to be involved in all cases if there is no evidence for instability or spinal cord compression. Backup physicians and physicists are required at only 1 institution, but all institutions have more than one specialist trained to perform spine radiosurgery. All centers believed that credentialing should also be device specific, and all believed that professional societies should formulate guidelines for institutions on the requirements for spine radiosurgery credentialing. Finally, in 4 institutions radiation therapists were required to attend corporate-sponsored device specific training for credentialing, and in only 1 institution were radiation therapists required to also attend academic society training for credentialing.
Conclusions: This study represents the first multi-national report of the current practice of institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery. Key methodologies for safe implementation and credentialing of spine radiosurgery have been identified. There is strong agreement among experienced centers that credentialing is an important component of the safe and effective implementation of a spine radiosurgery program.