The Gamma Knife® is used to treat various tumors and abnormalities of the brain. Treatment does not actually include a scalpel, as this form of neurosurgery requires no incision.
Specially trained neurosurgeons of DNS have 20 years of experience using the device at the Presbyterian Gamma Knife Center at TRH Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. The Gamma Knife offers specially trained DNS neurosurgeons the ability to focus low-level gamma radiation on a precise target within the brain. Intersecting at the target, the concentrated rays attempt to eradicate small-to medium-sized tumors and vascular abnormalities. It is important that surrounding tissues receive minimal radiation exposure.
Unlike traditional radiation therapy that often involves four to six weeks of treatment, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is performed in a single day on an outpatient basis. The use of the Gamma Knife originated in Sweden in 1968, with over 35,000 procedures having been performed worldwide.
A variety of tumors can be treated with the Gamma Knife including acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, metastatic, ocular and glomus tumors, astrocytomas and pituitary adenomas. Ateriovenous malformations (AVMs)are also commonly treated in this fashion. In certain circumstances, trigeminal neuralgia is also treated.
The Gamma Knife Procedure
The procedure involves attaching a stereotactic frame to the patient’s head, sophisticated radiation dose planning and the actual treatment in a specially designed radiation unit. The intracranial target is visualized by an appropriate imaging method (angiogram, CT, and/or MRI scan), and the x, y, and z coordinates of the target are plotted.
While the patient relaxes in another room, the neurosurgeon, aided by a radiation oncologist and a computerized dose-planning system, develops a treatment plan that details the precise amount and “shape” of the radiation to be delivered.
When preparation is complete, the patient is positioned into the center body of the Gamma Knife unit where the collimator helmet directs multiple beams of radiation to the target.
The patient’s head does not have to be shaved, and treatment time is shorter than for a craniotomy. Afterward, the patient returns to the hospital room for observation only. Most patients go home the same day and can be back at work the next day.