Has your doctor recommended Gamma Knife treatment for you or a loved one? Perhaps you have come across the term stereotactic radiosurgery in your research and would like to learn more. Gamma Knife can be an excellent treatment option for many conditions of the brain, head and neck. Read on to learn more about the procedure, treatable conditions and the benefits Gamma Knife Icon can offer many patients.
What is Gamma Knife Icon?
Gamma Knife Icon probably isn’t what you’re thinking. Though it sounds like a surgical procedure, it’s actually an advanced form of radiation treatment. There are no scalpels or incisions. In fact, Gamma Knife is a minimally invasive treatment option that doesn’t even require a hospital stay. Many conditions can be treated in a single session, though some people may require more sessions based on the size, location or nature of the treatment area.
Gamma Knife Icon is a form of stereotactic radiosurgery that was developed specifically for treating conditions affecting the neck up, including the brain. The technology uses close to 200 individual beams of high-dose radiation, which combine to target the area of interest while sparing healthy surrounding tissues. In fact, the Gamma Knife can treat an area with a precision of 0.15 mm – that’s less than the width of a single human hair.
Gamma Knife Icon provides a unique, frameless mask option to stabilize the head, instead of only offering the traditional head frame set up. Only available with the Icon system, the mask option allows the patient to be treated with 1-5 fractionated treatments easily and comfortably.
Who is Eligible for Gamma Knife Icon Treatment?
Many conditions can be treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery in place of, or in addition to, other treatment methods. Recall that Gamma Knife Icon is used specifically to treat conditions of the brain, head and neck which include:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Arteriovenous malformation
- Brain metastasis
- Pineal tumor
- Pituitary tumor
- Skull base tumor
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Vascular malformation
- Vestibular schwannoma
Your doctor will be the person to determine whether you are eligible for Gamma Knife Icon treatment based on your condition and individual health characteristics. However, many people who are scheduled for more invasive interventions may also qualify for Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Additionally, Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be an excellent treatment option for patients who cannot undergo surgery due to health conditions or who simply prefer a minimally invasive treatment option.
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Reasons to Consider Gamma Knife Icon Treatment
Part of the treatment planning process involves considering the benefits of your different options and how they compare to the risks. Your doctor will be the best person to discuss specific benefits and risks as they relate to your individual condition. However, it can be helpful to have a general understanding of the common benefits of Gamma Knife radiosurgery, particularly how it compares to other potential treatment options.
1. Gamma Knife Icon treatment is minimally invasive.
The term “Gamma Knife” might seem a bit misleading, because there are no incisions made during Gamma Knife radiosurgery. The procedure is considered minimally invasive, in contrast to surgery. This makes it an excellent treatment option for patients who cannot undergo surgery due to medical complications, whose condition is difficult or high risk to treat with surgery or who would prefer a less invasive treatment option.
2. There is no hospital stay following Gamma Knife Icon treatment.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery takes place in an outpatient setting. This means there is no overnight hospital stay. Most patients are able to leave within a couple of hours of completing treatment.
3. Treatment is focused, targeting areas of interest while sparing healthy surrounding tissues.
Unlike other forms of radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery procedures like Gamma Knife Icon target a very small area using multiple beams of high-dose radiation. This means fewer unpleasant side effects than traditional fractionated radiation therapy. This is because other forms of radiation therapy, like whole-brain radiation, affect all the tissues within the treatment area, whether healthy or diseased. By contrast, Gamma Knife Icon uses individual beams focused specifically on the target area with a precision of at least 0.15 mm.
4. Recovery is generally brief and mild.
Most people are back to work and normal activities within a day or two of Gamma Knife Icon treatment. Some people experience mild nausea, fatigue or headaches, but these are transient and can be eased with medications.
5. Gamma Knife Icon treatment can be used alone or as part of a combination approach.
Some patients may benefit from combining Gamma Knife radiosurgery with traditional surgery or other treatment methods. Gamma Knife Icon is frequently used following resection of a tumor to eliminate any cells remaining after surgery. Gamma Knife may also be an option when other treatments haven’t worked, like refractory trigeminal neuralgia.
6. Gamma Knife Icon Mask Technology
The differentiator with Gamma Knife Icon is the method of immobilization of patients. Icon allows for either a solid head frame or a mask for stabilization. Only available with the Icon system, the mask option allows the patient to be treated with 1-5 fractionated treatments. Patients who have larger tumors, or are unable to lie for extended periods of time can benefit greatly from this option where the total treatment is performed over fractions/days instead of one fraction or day. Most patients find the reusable mask is more comfortable than the head frame immobilization.
Gamma Knife Icon has a built-in CT Scanner, which allows an extra layer of verification of the treatment target area on a daily basis, prior to treatment. This ensures the mask-based treatments are delivered with the same accuracy level as a solid head frame alternative.
Speak with Your Doctor About Your Case
Your personal doctor knows your individual situation best. If you would like to continue to learn about the benefits of Gamma Knife Icon for treating your condition, your next step is to follow up with your doctor. He or she will be able to discuss the possibility of including Gamma Knife Icon in your treatment plan and what risks and benefits it presents. It has been an excellent treatment option for over 1 million patients worldwide. It may be a great choice for you, as well.