Gamma Knife Radiosurgery: Side Effects, Risks and Recovery

Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be an excellent treatment option for many patients in the tri-state area. Whether you already have a procedure scheduled or are still exploring your treatment options, understanding more about your Gamma Knife treatment options will help set your mind at ease through the process.

What is Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?

Gamma Knife radiosurgery may sound like a surgical procedure, but it is actually an advanced form of radiation therapy available in northern NJ. During treatment, almost 200 individual beams of low-dose radiation are focused on the area of interest, with an accuracy of 0.15 mm. That’s the width of just one human hair. As a result, surrounding healthy tissues are spared. This means fewer unpleasant side effects than traditional radiation therapy and none of the risks of open surgery.

Conditions Treated with Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used to treat a variety of conditions, either as the primary treatment or following surgery. These include:

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Side Effects & Risks

All medical procedures carry specific risks, which your doctor will take into consideration when developing your treatment plan. Gamma Knife risks are similar to traditional radiation therapy but are much milder. This is because healthy surrounding tissues are spared, leading to fewer unpleasant side effects. Side effects vary and depend on the location and size of the area treated, as well as the duration and number of treatment sessions. They can include:

  • Headache
  • Scalp swelling
  • Red and/or irritated skin at the treatment site
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness and/or weakness
  • Seizures
  • Temporary or permanent hair loss at the treatment site
  • Swelling of the brain
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Vision or hearing deficits

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Benefits

Whether you compare it to traditional radiation therapy or open surgery, the benefits of Gamma Knife radiosurgery make it an excellent treatment option for many NJ patients. In contrast to other forms of radiation, Gamma Knife benefits include:

  • Focused delivery of treatment, sparing healthy surrounding tissue
  • Fewer unpleasant side effects
  • A shorter, milder recovery period
  • Fewer treatment sessions (sometimes only one)

Because it is a minimally invasive procedure, Gamma Knife radiosurgery also offers benefits over traditional open surgery. These Gamma Knife benefits make the procedure an excellent option for patients who are not good surgical candidates or who simply prefer a minimally invasive approach. Benefits include:

  • No overnight hospital stay
  • No surgical risks, including reactions to general anesthesia, bleeding and infection
  • Shorter and milder recovery
  • No incisions, sutures or scarring
  • Less pain following the procedure
  • Ability to return to normal activities in a day or two

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gamma Knife a type of surgery?

No, Gamma Knife radiosurgery does not require any incisions or scalpels. It is an advanced form of radiation therapy and a minimally invasive procedure.

Do I have to stay in the hospital overnight?

No. Most patients are released to recover at home within a few hours of completion of treatment.

How long will I be out of work after my procedure?

You may feel tired after treatment, and your body could use some time to recover. Most patients return to normal activities, including work, within a day or two.

How many people have been treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery?

Over 1 million people around the world have been treated using Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

Patient Stories

Reading about the experiences with others is a powerful way to feel more comfortable with an upcoming medical procedure. If you have Gamma Knife treatment as part of your treatment plan, you will be happy to know that recent patients of The Valley Gamma Knife Center have been very pleased with their experiences.

You may also enjoy learning more about Nurse Navigators, an essential part of the team at The Valley Gamma Knife Center. Nurse Navigators help patients through the entire treatment experience, making sure you are comfortable from the moment you walk through the door until your recovery is complete.

Gamma Knife Recovery Time

While your recovery following Gamma Knife radiosurgery will be a very individual process, it can be helpful to have a general understanding of what most patients will experience. You will be free to return home following your procedure, without the need for a hospital stay. However, you may feel very tired. Some patients experience nausea and/or headaches following treatment, which can be managed using prescription medications if necessary.

Though you may be tired at first, most patients are able to return to normal work and activity levels within a day or two. Resolution of symptoms you experienced before treatment depends on your specific condition and are best addressed by your personal doctor.

A small number of patients experience swelling of the brain approximately six months after Gamma Knife radiosurgery. If this occurs, your doctor will prescribe medication to reduce the swelling, which typically resolves without complication.

Your Personal Treatment Path

Knowing what to expect before, during and after Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an excellent way to help set your mind at ease during this time. Gamma Knife radiosurgery has been successfully used around the world to treat conditions of the brain, head and neck and is a great treatment option for many patients in northern NJ.

Get Your Questions Answered, By a Real Person.

Our Patient Liaison is here to help you understand your next step. After discussing your specific case, she can help you navigate your medical records, answer insurance questions, and connect you with one of our nurses, at no charge to you.

Patient liaisons explain Gamma Knife surgery cost, outcomes, etc.