Gamma Knife Treatment - How It Works
Despite its name, Gamma Knife radio-surgery does not make a surgical incision.
Rather, our highly skilled team of specialists including a neurosurgeon,
a radiation oncologist and a medical physicist develop a treatment plan
that uses directed beams of radiation to treat brain-related disorders
without having to open up the skull.
The Gamma Knife is so precise that healthy tissue close to the treatment
site is left unharmed. Treatment is normally done on an outpatient basis,
so the patient can go home in just a few hours and usually resume normal
activities the next day. This safe, noninvasive approach is nearly painless
and avoids the possibility of damage to arteries, nerves and other important
Most Gamma Knife treatments are completed in half a day. There are five
steps in the procedure:
The Gamma Knife head frame is fitted.
To ensure effective planning and pinpoint accuracy of the Gamma Knife
radiation treatment, the patient is fitted with a lightweight head frame
that will remain in place for the entire procedure. The frame keeps your
head stable during the treatment planning and procedure. A local anesthetic
is applied to the site of the pins to ensure patient comfort.
An image of the treatment area is taken.
With the head frame in place, the patient will then go next door to the
Outpatient Imaging Department for an MRI, CT scan or angiography (depending
on your diagnosis.) These images are used by Paula Petti, Ph.D., and David
Larson, M.D., Ph.D., to plan and map your individual treatment dosage.
The treatment team plans the procedure.
With information from the new images, the treatment team uses sophisticated
computers to create a 3-dimensional image map of the patient's brain
and an individualized plan in preparation for the patient's Gamma
The procedure is performed.
Once the plan is completed, the patient will go to the Gamma Knife unit
for the procedure. During the procedure, the patient lies down and the
head frame will be attached to a device called a collimator, which is
part of the Gamma Knife system. The collimator ensures pinpoint accuracy
of the radiation treatment. Then, the physician will use the Gamma Knife®Perfexion™
to deliver 192 very precise cobalt-60 gamma ray beam to the treatment area.
The Gamma Knife procedure is safe and effective because individual gamma
ray beams are too weak to damage healthy tissue on their way to the target
area but are very powerful when they merge simultaneously at the area
of focus. A single treatment is usually all that is needed. The actual
time required to complete the treatment varies depending on your individual
condition and diagnosis.
You are discharged to go home.
Once the treatment is completed, the head frame and pins will be removed.
Four small bandages will be placed at the sites of the pins. The patient
then returns to the Gamma Knife waiting area for recovery and observation
by our staff. After it has been determined that the patient is stable
and able to walk, eat and drink liquids, the patient is discharged to
rest at home.
www.gammaknifeprogram.com for more information, to schedule an appointment or to ask questions.