Gamma Knife Radiation vs Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Learning about your treatment options available in NJ can be like learning a new language. However, the differences between stereotactic radiosurgery vs. Gamma Knife doesn’t have to be confusing.

Learning More About Your Options

Educating yourself about the treatment options available in northern NJ is a great idea. It will aid you in your conversations with your doctor. It will give you confidence about your decisions. It will help you know what to expect as you move forward. All these things will contribute to peace of mind and reduce stress, allowing you to focus your energy elsewhere.

What is Stereotactic Radiosurgery?

Stereotactic radiosurgery is an advanced form of radiation therapy. In contrast to other radiation treatments, stereotactic radiosurgery targets small areas with highly focused, intense beams of radiation. As a result, healthy surrounding tissues receive less radiation. This allows the doctor to treat only the area of interest, sparing adjacent structures. The end result is an effective treatment with fewer unpleasant side effects than more traditional forms of radiation therapy.

Over the past 60-plus years, different stereotactic radiosurgery delivery systems have been developed. These systems vary in how radiation is delivered and how the patient is positioned for the treatment. However, the overall principle of focused radiation therapy is the same. Some of the stereotactic radiosurgery systems available in the tri-state area are Gamma Knife radiosurgery, CyberKnife and TrueBeam STx. These are all types of stereotactic radiosurgery, which answers the original question of the difference between stereotactic radiosurgery and Gamma Knife.

However, as you learn more about your condition and treatment options, it can be like learning a second language. To clear up some of the confusion, the following information will explain the difference between stereotactic radiosurgery vs Gamma Knife, as well as other information about Gamma Knife radiosurgery that you may find helpful.

More About Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

Now that you understand the difference between stereotactic radiosurgery vs Gamma Knife, it can be helpful to learn about what makes Gamma Knife radiosurgery unique. The Gamma Knife system was developed specifically to treat conditions of the brain and head. Some other types of stereotactic radiosurgery can treat any site of the body but lack the specialization the Gamma Knife system possesses.

Gamma Knife radiosurgery takes place in an outpatient setting. This means you do not have to stay overnight in the hospital. In fact, most patients return home an hour or two after completion of treatment. Though some patients may experience a mild headache, fatigue or nausea after treatment, most people are back to normal activity levels within a day or two of the procedure.

The actual treatment takes approximately 15-90 minutes to complete, depending on what is being treated. You will be awake and able to speak to your doctor the entire time. Many patients only require a single session of Gamma Knife radiosurgery. However, this depends on the condition and the area being treated, and some patients may need up to five sessions in total.

Choosing a Treatment Option

Your doctor will take many factors into consideration when developing your treatment plan. These include your condition, overall health and personal treatment desires. Some of the conditions that can be treated using Gamma Knife radiosurgery include:

If you have any of the above conditions, your doctor may consider Gamma Knife radiosurgery for the following reasons:

  • You are not a good candidate for surgery due to complicating health conditions
  • The area to be treated is not easily accessible or in close proximity to structures at risk of damage during surgery or traditional radiation therapy
  • You wish to avoid the extended treatment length associated with traditional radiation
  • You prefer a minimally invasive procedure, without the need for incisions or a hospital stay
  • You have had surgery to remove part of a tumor but require follow-up treatment to remove any remaining cells
  • You have already had treatment, but your tumor has returned and requires retreatment

Your Individual Treatment Path

The list of conditions and reasons above is by no means exhaustive. Your personal doctor will the best person to discuss Gamma Knife radiosurgery as it relates to your individual condition. He or she will be able to explain whether Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an appropriate option for you and why. Now that you understand the difference between stereotactic radiosurgery vs Gamma Knife, you will be comfortable with whichever terms your doctor uses in that conversation.

Continue to educate yourself about your condition and treatment options available in northern NJ. Being comfortable with your procedure and knowing what to expect will let you rest easy as you prepare for treatment and your recovery afterward. Should you have any questions about what you have learned, be sure to follow up with your personal doctor. He or she will help clarify, setting your mind at ease when you could use it most.

Anthony D’Ambrosio, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.N.S
Anthony D’Ambrosio, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.N.S
Dr. Anthony D’Ambrosio is a board-certified neurosurgeon that specializes in Neurosurgery, Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery (GKRS) and more. He is the Director of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the Gamma Knife Program at The Valley Hospital. Dr. D’Ambrosio is an expert in treating patients with trigeminal neuralgia, benign or malignant brain tumors, as well as many other neurological conditions.

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