When Should You Consider Gamma Knife Treatment Therapy?

Medical science continues to evolve at a rapid pace, often making treatments that were common several decades ago obsolete. Other procedures have advanced and become more effective. Gamma Knife treatment therapy is one of them.

Gamma Knife is a form of stereotactic radiosurgery, a technique developed to treat deep brain tumors. Now, stereotactic radiosurgery is commonly used to treat multiple conditions, including residual cancer cells, tumors in the lung, liver, abdomen, etc. and arteriovenous malformations, among others. Doctors also use this method to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. This treatment has allowed physicians to effectively battle conditions that were previously not candidates for surgery. 

What is Gamma Knife Treatment Therapy?

Gamma Knife treatment therapy has been around since the 1960s, but it has become more sophisticated and effective over time. Despite the name, Gamma Knife doesn’t involve a scalpel or knife. Instead, the instrument uses about 200 rays of gamma radiation precisely focused on the tumor or target area. The radiation hits this target at multiple points simultaneously, delivering an extensive amount of high-dose radiation. This process treats the “bad” tissue while preserving the surrounding healthy tissue. As a result, Gamma Knife treatment has fewer side effects than traditional radiation treatments.

Gamma Knife is a minimally invasive treatment that delivers impressive results. The procedure is an outpatient procedure that your doctor can usually complete in just over an hour. When you arrive at the facility, a staff member will escort you to the procedure room where you will meet with the nurse navigator, review the events of your procedure and administer a local anesthetic in anticipation of the head frame placement. The head frame is used to ensure your head remains still during the treatment, therefore allowing the treatment to be delivered directly to the targeted area. An MRI is performed following the frame placement and will be used to identify exactly where your physician orders the treatment. A physicist will work with your physician to develop and determine the optimal treatment plan. Once approved, the plan will be transferred to the gamma knife machine for appropriate treatment delivery. In most cases, you can expect to return home within an hour of the completion of your treatment. Once home, you could experience only mild side effects such as headaches and skin tenderness from the frame attachment.

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When Should You Consider Gamma Knife Treatment Therapy?

Depending on your condition, you may need to choose between traditional surgery and Gamma Knife treatment. You will want to consider Gamma Knife treatment when traditional surgery has a high risk of harming healthy tissue, regular surgery has a low chance of success and you need a short recovery period. Gamma Knife patients can return home that day and often recover in a day or two since there is no wound or bleeding to manage.

Your doctor may also recommend Gamma Knife as a result of a failed medication regimen. If you are continuously increasing dosage or frequency of medication or it seems to no longer be working to ease pain, Gamma Knife or another treatment option is often the next step. This happens in most cases for those diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. In some cases, surgeons use Gamma Knife as a supplement to regular surgery, often to kill residual cancer cells. This instrument has also shown impressive results for neurological ills, such as Parkinson’s. Treatment with the Gamma Knife often lessens patient tremors and allows them to resume a more normal life, something medications cannot always do. This treatment offers some significant advantages over other methods.

Where to Go From Here

When dealing with a medical condition, one of the biggest decisions you face is choosing a treatment path that is right for you. You should always research all available options and get multiple opinions from your doctor and other leading medical professionals. 

If you would like to learn more about Gamma Knife treatment therapy as a treatment option for you, contact The Valley Gamma Knife Center and a Nurse Navigator will be glad to speak to you about possible next steps.

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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