Gamma Knife® surgery is recognized worldwide as the preferred treatment for brain tumors, arteriovenous malformations and brain dysfunctions such as trigeminal neuralgia. It is supported by over 2,500 peer reviewed research articles that are primarily published in neurosurgery journals. The Gamma Knife® offers a non-invasive alternative for many patients for whom traditional brain surgery is not an option. Gamma Knife® surgery removes the physical trauma and the majority of risks associated with conventional surgery. This effective single session treatment may require an overnight hospital stay, but is often done in an outpatient surgical setting with periodic follow-up. It has been proven safe over the long term and is recognized and covered by insurance plans.
The same as neurosurgery, the Gamma Knife® allows noninvasive cerebral surgery to be performed in one session and with extreme precision, sparing tissues adjacent to the target. Based on preoperative radiological examinations, such as CT scans, MR scans and angiography, the unit provides highly accurate irradiation of deep-seated targets, using a multitude of collimated beams of ionizing radiation with scalpel-like precision.
Gamma Knife® surgery represents a major advance in brain surgery, and in the last three decades has changed the landscape within the field of neurosurgery. Its development has enhanced neurosurgical treatments offered to patients with brain tumors and vascular malformations by providing a safe, accurate and reliable treatment option. Gamma Knife® enables patients to undergo a non-invasive form of brain surgery without surgical risks, a long hospital stay or subsequent rehabilitation.
Like other radiosurgery, Gamma Knife® surgery is unique in that no surgical incision is made to expose the inside of the brain, thereby reducing the risk of surgical complications and eliminating the side effects and dangers of general anesthesia. The “blades” of the Gamma Knife® are the beams of gamma radiation programmed to target the lesion at the point where they intersect. In a single treatment session, 201 beams of gamma radiation focus precisely on the lesion. Over time, most lesions slowly decrease in size and dissolve. The exposure is brief and only the tissue being treated receives a significant radiation dose, while the surrounding tissue remains unharmed.
With the Gamma Knife®, a surgical incision is not required; the attendant risks of open neurosurgical procedures (hemorrhage, infection, cerebrospinal fluid leakage, etc.) are therefore avoided.
Published reports indicate that the Gamma Knife® may be used as an alternative to standard neurosurgical operations or as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of residual or recurrent lesions left unresected by conventional surgery. Radiosurgery can be especially useful for those patients who are not suitable for standard surgical techniques due to illness or advanced age. In many neurosurgical cases, the Gamma Knife® is the only feasible treatment.
Conditions for which the Gamma Knife® is considered most effective are:
- Intracranial tumors such as acoustic neuromas, pituitary adenomas, pinealomas, craniopharyngiomas, meningiomas, chordomas, chondrosarcomas, metastases and glial tumors.
- Vascular malformations including arteriovenous malformations.
- Functional disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Evidence-based research has shown Gamma Knife® to be effective for trigeminal neuralgia. Research has not supported linear accelerator (linac) treatment of trigeminal neuralgia and other functional brain disorders like tremors and pain at this time. In addition to the above mentioned indications, functional disorders such as intractable pain, Parkinson’s disease, essential tremors and epilepsy are often treated with Gamma Knife®.
The Gamma Knife® technology can be used to treat those who do not require immediate surgical relief of disabling symptoms and those whose tumors are, in general, 4-5 cm or less. When Gamma Knife® cannot be utilized or is not available to the patient, radiosurgery with linear accelerator technology can usually be utilized. For more information on linear accelerator treatment and technology see Linear Accelerator.
ADVANTAGES OF GAMMA KNIFE®
- Gamma Knife® is a neurosurgical tool designed exclusively for the treatment of brain disorders.
- The lesion being treated receives a high dose of radiation with minimum risk to nearby tissue and structures.
- The cost of a Gamma Knife® procedure is often 25% to 30% less than traditional neurosurgery.
- Patients experience little discomfort.
- The absence of an incision eliminates the risk of hemorrhage and infection.
- Hospitalization is short, typically an overnight stay or an outpatient surgical procedure. Patients can immediately resume their previous activities.
- Gamma Knife® technology allows treatment of inoperable lesions. The procedure offers hope to patients who were formerly considered untreatable or at very high risk during open skull surgery.
Leksell Gamma Knife® is a registered trademark of Elekta Instruments, Inc.