Whether you already have your acoustic neuroma Gamma Knife surgery scheduled or are still exploring your treatment options, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of the procedure. Educating yourself is a great way to develop confidence in your upcoming treatment, leading to more in-depth conversations with your personal doctor and peace of mind throughout the process.
As you learn more about the risks and benefits of Gamma Knife radiosurgery, it is important to keep in mind that your personal doctor takes all of these factors into consideration before making any treatment recommendations. He or she will be the best person to discuss the details related to your unique case. However, learning more at a broad level can help you better understand these risks and benefits as they apply to you personally.
What is an Acoustic Neuroma?
Before discussing acoustic neuroma Gamma Knife surgery, it helps to have a general understanding of your condition. An acoustic neuroma is a type of benign brain tumor that develops from the vestibulocochlear nerve, the cranial nerve responsible for hearing and balance. Most patients only develop an acoustic neuroma on one side, although bilateral acoustic neuroma is possible, especially in patients with a rare genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis Type 2.
Though your acoustic neuroma is benign, it may still grow large enough to affect nearby structures, requiring treatment to prevent further damage and/or progression of symptoms. The treatment a doctor recommends might include monitoring, surgery or Gamma Knife radiosurgery, depending on the characteristics of the tumor and a patient’s personal health factors.
What is Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?
Though it sounds like a surgical procedure, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is actually a minimally invasive treatment that uses radiation to shrink your tumor. During the procedure, your doctor will use nearly 200 individual beams of low-dose radiation that treat your tumor at the same time, targeting an area as precise as a single human hair. This allows your doctor to treat only tumor cells, sparing healthy surrounding tissue.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an outpatient treatment. This means you do not have to stay overnight in the hospital. The procedure itself takes 15-75 minutes, depending on the size and location of your tumor. Many patients can be treated in just one session, though you may require up to five, again depending on the characteristics of your individual tumor.
Benefits of Acoustic Neuroma Gamma Knife Surgery
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an excellent treatment option available in northern NJ for many patients diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used as a primary treatment to shrink your tumor, or it can be used following surgical removal of a large tumor to eradicate any remaining tumor cells.
Benefits of acoustic neuroma Gamma Knife surgery include:
- No overnight hospital stay required
- Short recovery – most patients return to work and activities within a day or two
- Minimally invasive approach with no incisions required
- None of the risks associated with surgery, such as infection and bleeding
- Available as a treatment option for patients who are not candidates for surgery due to health conditions or advanced age
- Reduced risk of damage to adjacent tissues
- Reduced risk of cranial nerve injury
- Many patients only require a single treatment session
Risks of Acoustic Neuroma Gamma Knife Surgery
You may be familiar with other forms of radiation therapy and the side effects patients may experience following treatment. However, because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is so precise, there is less damage to healthy cells than with other radiation treatment and fewer side effects. However, some patients will experience a headache and nausea immediately following treatment. These effects tend to be mild and can be managed by medication if required. Other side effects immediately following treatment can include:
- Itching or swelling where the headframe attaches to the scalp
- Redness or discomfort at the treatment site
- Rarely, hair loss at the treatment site
Your Personal Doctor and Your Condition
Now that you better understand acoustic neuroma Gamma Knife surgery, as well as the risks and benefits, it’s important to continue the discussion with your personal doctor. Because he or she is the person most familiar with your individual condition, that will be the best person to explain the particular benefits and risks of Gamma Knife radiosurgery as they relate to you.
As you move forward through the treatment process, continue to educate yourself about your condition and treatment. This will help you know what to expect along the way, providing you peace of mind and allowing you to focus your energy on important things, like your recovery. Should you have any questions at any point, be sure to bring them up with your personal doctor. He or she will help ensure you are comfortable with everything before, during and after your treatment.