Following your medical diagnosis, the next step is to work with your doctor to determine which treatment option is most appropriate for your individual condition. One treatment option you may have heard about, perhaps while speaking to your doctor, is Gamma Knife radiosurgery. While many patients in NJ are familiar with traditional radiation therapy, Gamma Knife radiosurgery may be a new concept for you.
There are many conditions that can be treated using Gamma Knife radiosurgery, oftentimes as a noninvasive alternative to surgery or a safer form of radiation therapy than whole brain radiation. The following information will help you develop a better understanding of the Gamma Knife technology and what factors may make you a good candidate, including a quick-reference checklist you can easily review at the end.
Understanding Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Though it sounds like a surgical procedure, Gamma Knife is actually a form of stereotactic radiosurgery. This is an advanced radiation technique that does not involve any incisions or even a hospital stay.
Using almost 200 individual beams of energy, your doctor can target a highly focused area with an accuracy of at least 0.15 mm — the width of two human hairs — avoiding unnecessary dosing to surrounding healthy tissue. As a result, you will experience fewer unpleasant side effects than those often associated with radiation therapy, and many patients only require a single treatment session.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?
While your personal doctor will be the best person to help you determine whether Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an appropriate treatment option, it can be helpful to understand which patients may be good candidates.
You Have a Condition Treatable With Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
In contrast to other stereotactic radiosurgery technologies, the Gamma Knife system has been developed specifically to treat conditions of the brain, head and neck. Some of these conditions include:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Arteriovenous malformation
- Brain metastases
- Pineal tumors
- Pituitary tumors
- Skull base tumors
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Vascular malformation
- Vestibular schwannoma
If you have been diagnosed with one of the above conditions, you may be a good candidate for Gamma Knife radiosurgery, either as a primary or adjunct treatment option.
You Prefer a Minimally Invasive Approach
Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery does not involve any incisions or surgery, it is an excellent, noninvasive treatment option for many patients. The procedure takes place in an outpatient setting, which means you do not have to stay overnight in the hospital and will typically be able to resume all normal activities within a day or so. You are awake through the entire treatment process and able to communicate with your doctor at all times.
A benefit of a minimally invasive approach is it reduces the risks associated with any form of surgery, including reaction to general anesthesia, pain and infection at the incision site, and bleeding issues, such as clots and stroke. If this is of concern to you, you may wish to discuss Gamma Knife radiosurgery as a treatment option with your doctor at your next appointment.
You Are Not a Candidate for Surgery
For some patients, surgery carries increased risk, which may outweigh the benefits of treatment. This could be due to advanced age, the difficulty of accessing the surgical site, the risk of damage to adjacent structures or complicating health conditions. However, because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a noninvasive technique, it can be a fantastic alternative when surgery is not a viable option.
You Have Been Previously Treated With Radiation or Surgery
Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is so precise and delivers such a targeted dose of radiation, it can still be used as a treatment option following other forms of radiation therapy, even if the maximum dose has been reached. Gamma Knife radiosurgery can also be repeated if necessary, and some patients may require up to five sessions to achieve maximum results.
There are many patients who would benefit from the use of Gamma Knife following surgery, such as after the resection of a large brain tumor or metastases. Simple surgery is not precise enough to ensure every tumor cell has been removed, and any remaining could regrow into a new tumor. Gamma Knife radiosurgery following traditional surgery can eradicate any remaining cells and makes an excellent adjunct therapy for many patients.
Many Patients Can Benefit From Gamma Knife
Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be a great primary or secondary treatment for many patients and is emerging as a favored treatment option for many conditions. To review, you may be a good candidate for Gamma Knife radiosurgery if any of the following statements hold true for you:
- I have been diagnosed with a condition of the brain, head or neck.
- I am interested in a minimally invasive treatment for my condition.
- I am interested in treatment for my condition that allows me to return to normal activities within a day or two.
- I am not a candidate for surgery because of my individual condition and/or complicating health conditions.
- I have previously undergone radiation therapy and require further treatment for my condition.
- I have previously undergone surgery and require further treatment for my condition.
If any of these apply to you, be sure to ask your personal doctor about Gamma Knife radiosurgery as a treatment option for you in Northern New Jersey. He or she will be able to discuss your individual condition and health factors to help determine whether or not you are a good candidate for Gamma Knife radiosurgery and refer to you to an expert in the tri-state area.