Gamma Knife radiosurgery for the treatment of certain brain tumors is a single-session treatment that can take place in one day with no significant recovery period. The procedure uses the Gamma Knife, which treats the patient with gamma radiation. No incisions are made at all.
The patient wears a special helmet and his or her head is then placed in a frame. Gamma Knife radiation produced from cobalt sources is aimed in 201 radioactive beams to precisely hit the target (the tumor). The actual treatment is painless and the patient does not need general anesthesia. Since no incisions are made, there are no scars.
Although gamma radiation surgery sounds very new, it has been around since 1968. Worldwide, over 300,000 patients have been treated with gamma radiosurgery. Over 2,100 patients have been treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, which is one of the nation's leading facilities for gamma radiosurgery.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery may be the primary treatment for a specific condition or it may be used along with other treatments.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is considered most effective for:
Not all brain tumor patients are candidates for gamma radiosurgery, but if your physician suggests that it might help you, you should consider the following points.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery involves four steps:
When the treatment is over, the frame and helmet will be removed and the medical team will give the patient and his or her family specific instructions. Some patients experience a slight headache or mild swelling near the area where the helmet and frame were attached, but most report no problems. Many patients are able to go home that night, but sometimes an overnight hospital stay is required. Many patients can resume normal activities the next day.