Comparing Gamma Knife and ZAP-X Radiosurgery

If you need treatment for a neurological condition, your provider may recommend a type of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).

There are several types or “brands” of SRS, each made (and named) by a different medical device company. Examples include Gamma Knife, CyberKnife and TrueBeam.

Here at The Valley Gamma Knife Center, we often see patients seeking an expert opinion about their treatment options. Many want to confirm whether SRS is the best treatment for their condition — and if so, which type to choose.

Below, we’ve compared Gamma Knife to the newest type of SRS on the market: ZAP-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery.

How are Gamma Knife and ZAP-X Similar?

Like all types of SRS, Gamma Knife and ZAP-X use a machine to send radiation into your body.

However, while some SRS systems treat problems throughout the body, Gamma Knife and ZAP-X are different. They were specially designed to treat problems in the head or brain, including:

In the right circumstances, Gamma Knife and ZAP-X can be as effective as brain surgery for some patients — but with fewer risks. Additionally, both Gamma Knife and ZAP-X require minimal downtime, with many patients returning to their normal activities shortly after treatment.

The Differences Between Gamma Knife and ZAP-X

If you’re a candidate for SRS treatment, you can rest assured that Gamma Knife and ZAP-X are both effective options. But if you’re trying to choose one type over the other, here are a few things to consider:


  • Longevity: Compared to other types of SRS, Gamma Knife has an unprecedented history of success. It was invented in 1968 — nearly 60 years ago — and has been used to treat millions of people worldwide. According to the ZAP-X website, the system received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in 2017, and has been used to treat patients since 2019.

  • Availability: In early 2024, you could find Gamma Knife at nearly 350 medical centers — including right here at Valley. Meanwhile, ZAP-X was available at fewer than 20 centers, according to its website. Depending on where you live, you might need to travel farther for ZAP-X radiation therapy.

  • Precision: With Gamma Knife, we can send nearly 200 individual beams of radiation to the treatment area at the same time. And we can deliver this radiation within 0.15 millimeters of its target, minimizing radiation damage to the surrounding area. The ZAP-X system uses a single, high-dose radiation beam.

  • Comfort: When you receive ZAP-X treatment, you’re fully enclosed in a lead chamber without any openings. With Gamma Knife, your body remains in the open while your head rests inside a large circular shell. The latter option may be preferable to people who feel anxious in enclosed spaces.

  • Research data: Because Gamma Knife has been around for nearly six decades, it’s well-studied. Over the years, researchers have published more than 10,000 scientific papers confirming Gamma Knife safety and efficacy.

Learn More About Your Treatment Options

We understand the complexities involved in medical decisions, and we want you to be able to make an informed choice.

Whether you’d like a second opinion about your treatment options or want to see if you’re a candidate for SRS, we’re here to help. Please call 201-634-5610 to speak with a member of our team.

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.