Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

What is Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery?

The Gamma Knife® is a treatment device with the ability to treat brain tumors, vascular malformations and functional disorders (neurologic pain and movement disorders) without the risks of open surgery such as general anesthesia, infection and bleeding. There is no cutting or incisions made with this treatment. The Gamma Knife ® uses 201 focused beams of radiation to deliver a highly therapeutic dose to a target with sub-millimeter precision.  Recovery is quick, and the treatment is generally administered on an outpatient basis.

A multidisciplinary team within the Beaumont Gamma Knife Center includes surgeons, radiation oncologists and radiation physicists that work together to generate an optimal treatment plan delivering a high dose of radiation to the target while sparing the surrounding normal brain.

What does Gamma Knife® treat?

The following conditions may require Gamma Knife treatment :

  • brain tumors
  • arteriovenous malformations (AVM)
  • trigeminal neuralgia
  • Parkinson's disease
  • epilepsy
  • other functional disorders

Is there any preparation required for Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery?

There is no special preparation required prior to your arrival at the Gamma Knife® Center on the day of your treatment.

What happens during Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery?

Upon your arrival at the Gamma Knife® Center, the treatment team will explain the entire procedure in detail.

To ensure accurate treatment, a targeting frame is fitted on your head.  This helps the treatment team to pinpoint the target, prevents any movement during the procedure, and allows for maximal accuracy of the radiation beams.  The frame is attached to your head with screws using local anesthesia to make the placement as painless as possible.

Detailed imaging studies (such as MRI scan, CT scan or Angiogram) will then be performed allowing for the precise definition of the desired target (tumor or lesion) in the Gamma Knife® treatment planning software.

Once imaging is complete, you will be taken to a quiet area where you may rest while your physicians and the remainder of the Gamma Knife® team create your treatment plan.  This will likely require one to two hours as every treatment plan is unique and optimized to the specific requirements of the individual patient.  During this time, you may sleep, watch TV, read, visit with family, etc.

When the team has completed your treatment plan, it is time for treatment.  No anesthesia is required, but you may be given medications to help you relax throughout treatment.  The Gamma Knife® unit looks similar to a CT scan machine.  You will lie on a treatment couch, and the head frame will be attached to the appropriate treatment helmet.  The helmet is the device used to focus the 201 radiation beams precisely on the target.  The treatment itself is completely painless.  The couch smoothly slides into position in the Gamma Knife® machine.  You will be closely monitored during the procedure by video and will be in constant contact with the treatment team by an intercom connection.  Most treatments will last between twenty and ninety minutes, depending on your personalized plan.

What happens after Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery?

When treatment is over, your doctor will remove the head frame. Some patients may experience swelling or mild headache where the frame is attached, but this is relatively rare. Depending on what your doctor feels appropriate, you may have to stay in hospital for several hours or, rarely, overnight for observation.

Gamma Knife® radiosurgery exerts its effects over time. Your doctor will discuss with you the optimal way to determine the success of the procedure. Since this treatment is designed to stop the growth, shrinking or eliminate tumors/lesions, additional MRI or CT scans may be required in the weeks to months following Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery.

Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery at Beaumont is a safe, non-invasive method for treating neurological conditions. It is a technique that spares healthy brain tissue, while destroying tumors and lesions. Patients who have Gamma Knife® treatment usually return to their normal level of activity within 24 hours.

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