What to Expect During Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for AVM

As your Gamma Knife radiosurgery to treat your arteriovenous malformation (AVM) approaches, it can be helpful to know what to expect before, during and after your procedure. This will help you prepare for the appointment itself as well as the recovery period that follows. The more you know ahead of time, the more you can rest easy in the time leading up to your radiosurgery for AVM and focus instead on your recovery.

Overview of Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

Though it sounds like a surgical procedure, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a highly specific form of radiation treatment available to patients in northern NJ that can be used to treat conditions of the brain and skull base, including your AVM. Using 192 beams of focused energy, your doctor can target just the tangle of blood vessels without making a single incision, restoring blood flow as it should be.

Gamma Knife radiosurgery takes place in an outpatient setting while you are awake, which means you won’t have to stay overnight in a hospital. While your doctor will be the best person to discuss your personal situation and what you can expect following your specific procedure, the following overview of each phase of treatment will help give you an idea of what most patients will experience.

Many specialists in the tri-state area prefer to use Gamma Knife radiosurgery to treat AVM patients in the NJ and NYC area. With proven results, Gamma Knife radiosurgery bypasses the risks related to traditional surgery, eliminates the need for a hospital stay and results in a shorter, less painful recovery period.

Before Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for AVM

As your treatment date approaches, your doctor will discuss any necessary steps you will need to take on your end. Be sure your doctor has an up-to-date list of all medications and supplements you are taking in case any modifications need to be made prior to treatment. You won’t need to plan for a lengthy recovery, but you may want to schedule a couple of days off of work to give your body time to recover.

During Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for AVM

On the day of your appointment, you will want to wear comfortable clothing to the treatment center. You won’t need to bring an overnight bag or any extra belongings, as you will be going home the same day. At the start of the procedure, your doctor will place a head frame or a custom-fit mask over your head, which will ensure you stay in the proper position. Next, the team will take a series of images to visualize the area being treated and review those together.

The actual treatment session is variable, depending on the location of your AVM. When treatment is complete, your doctor will remove the head frame or mask, and you will be released to return home within a few hours. Many patients only require a single session of radiosurgery for AVM, though it can be repeated if needed.

Following Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for AVM

Immediately following your procedure, you may feel tired or have a headache and/or nausea. Your doctor can prescribe medication that will help you feel as comfortable as possible, though these side effects should only last a day or two. In fact, most patients are able to resume all normal activities and return to work within 1-2 days. Some people have slight itching or discomfort at the pin sites on the scalp. This is also temporary and will resolve in the first couple of days.

If you require further treatment sessions, your doctor will schedule those with you. You can also expect to have follow-up imaging done to evaluate the success of your treatment. Around the six-month mark, some patients may experience a delayed swelling of the brain. This is uncommon but can be easily managed using medication that your doctor will be able to prescribe for you.

Your Personal Recovery

Taking the time to learn as much as you can before your Gamma Knife procedure is a great way to set your mind at ease in the time leading up to your appointment. The more you understand what to expect at every stage in the process, the better prepared you can be overall. If you find you still have questions about your personal recovery outlook, be sure to bring them up with your personal doctor at your next appointment. He or she will be happy to ensure your questions are answered and you are comfortable with all aspects of your Gamma Knife radiosurgery for your AVM.

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.

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.