An Overview of the Gamma Knife Procedure

By Groshan Fabiola

Gamma knife surgery is one of the most successful methods of treating brain tumors and other brain disorders today. The gamma knife treatment is a complex and careful procedure that requires the collaboration of doctors and medical specialists from a wide variety of fields. The whole process begins first with careful patient selection, as not all patients afflicted with brain disorders are eligible for the gamma knife treatment. A multidisciplinary panel of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and other experts must analyze a patient’s history before he or she is approved.

Patient selection is based on a diagnostic examination that takes into consideration age and general health, and involves doing a tissue diagnosis and imaging studies. Patients who have previously had open brain surgery are still eligible for gamma knife treatment.

Once a patient is accepted for treatment, he will be admitted to the neurosurgery or brain tumor clinic of the facility where the procedure will take place. A head frame is attached to the patient’s head under local anesthetic. The frame is attached with four metal pins and securely fastened to help more accurately target the brain lesions. Once the frame is in place, MRI and CT imaging studies are conducted to precisely locate the diseased area that is going to be treated with the gamma knife device.

All of the data gathered from these studies is then put into the gamma knife device’s computer system. A team of neurological surgeons, medical physicists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, nurses, computer specialists, and physicians work to come up with the most effective plan for each particular gamma knife surgery procedure. Advanced computer software is used during these planning stages, which can take up to two hours depending on the location of the target area and complexity of the disorder.

Once the customized surgery plan is finished, the patient is placed into the gamma knife device, which consists of a comfortable couch with the patient’s framed head placed into the gamma knife chamber where the treatment can begin. The treatment itself typically lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, again, depending on the complexity of the operation. There is no pain involved and once the procedure is over, patients can usually leave the gamma knife facility that same day; periodic follow-up dates are arranged to track the surgery’s success. Today, the gamma knife is being used widely in trigeminal neuralgia radiosurgery and to treat vascular malformations, brain tumors, and some types of brain cancer.

For more resources regarding gamma knife treatment or even about brain tumor clinic and especially about trigeminal neuralgia radiosurgery please review these pages.

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