adjective: involving or used in a surgical technique for precisely directing the tip of a delicate instrument or beam of radiation in three planes using coordinates provided by medical imaging in order to reach a specific locus in the body
“Once in the OR, Mario was given a local anesthetic. His head had been shaved, his brain targeted to millimeter precision by MRIs. Attached to his head was a stereotactic frame to provide surgeons with precise coordinates and mapping imagery.” — Lauren Slater, Mother Jones, November 2005
“The center is equipped with a $5 million machine, known as a stereotactic body radiotherapy system, that zaps tumors with high doses of radiation without damaging nearby tissue and organs.” — James T. Mulder, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), July 18, 2014
Did you know?
At the beginning of the 20th century, neurosurgeons were experimenting with a technique used to direct the tip of a needle or an electrode in three spatial planes (length, width, and depth) to reach a particular place in the brain. At that time, the word for this technique was “stereotaxic,” based on the prefix “stereo-” (“dealing with three dimensions of space”) and “taxis” (referring to the manual restoration of a displaced body part). In 1950, “stereotactic” (based on “tactic,” meaning “of or relating to touch”) joined the medical vocabulary as a synonym of “stereotaxic.” Around the same time, a noninvasive neurosurgery technique was developed using beams of radiation. It is this procedure that is now often described as “stereotactic” and (less frequently) “stereotaxic.”