Before recommending Gamma Knife radiosurgery to treat your meningioma, your doctor considered your condition and weighed all of the benefits against the risks to determine that it would be the most appropriate treatment for you. Generally speaking, a doctor will never recommend a procedure where the risks are greater than the benefits, which is why patients can trust their doctors’ judgment.
As your treatment date approaches, it can be useful to understand the benefits, risks and side effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery to offer insight into the factors that your doctor took into consideration. Doing so can give you confidence in your upcoming procedure and help alleviate some of the stress during this time while providing you with an idea of what to expect following treatment.
About Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Before discussing the benefits, risks and side effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery for meningioma, it may be helpful to review a bit about the technology itself. Though it sounds like a surgical procedure, Gamma Knife is a form of radiation therapy available to patients in NJ and is relatively noninvasive, without the need for any incisions. You may be familiar with radiation surgery to treat brain tumors, but you may be unaware of Gamma Knife specifically. Many patients know of whole-brain radiation therapy, the traditional approach for treating cancerous brain tumors.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery is different. It is an advanced form of radiation treatment that uses approximately 200 individual radiation beams to focus on a highly specific area. As a result, the treatment spares the surrounding tissues while targeting only the tumor cells. This ability to deliver highly focused radiation to a concentrated target is the primary reason that Gamma Knife is so successful.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery has many benefits that make it an excellent treatment option for many patients with meningioma.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery vs. Traditional Surgery
- Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a minimally invasive procedure, no hospital stay is required. Patients requiring surgery typically spend several days in the hospital.
- Gamma Knife does not require incisions and does not surgically disturb any surrounding tissues, so recovery time is minimal. Most patients can resume all activities and return to work within two days. Patients who undergo surgery for meningioma typically have activity and work restrictions for anywhere from 2-6 weeks.
- Doctors perform Gamma Knife while patients are awake, which means that general anesthesia (breathing tube and breathing machine) are not necessary. This feature eliminates the risks of general anesthesia such as infection and pain at the incision site, bleeding, blood clots, stroke, and pneumonia.
Risks and Side Effects of Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Meningioma
No medical procedure is without potential risks or side effects, and Gamma Knife radiosurgery is no exception. However, as discussed earlier, many of the risks and side effects are less severe and less common when compared to other meningioma treatment options. However, it can be helpful to know what complications may arise, so nothing takes you by surprise, should it occur.
In the period immediately following your treatment, you may experience common radiation side effects, such as nausea, headache and fatigue. However, these are typically transient, relatively mild and manageable through medication. Some patients experience swelling at the head frame sites in the scalp, but this is temporary, lasting only 1-2 days before resolving.
A potential delayed side effect that can occur approximately six months following Gamma Knife radiosurgery is swelling of the brain next to the meningioma’s location. This condition usually goes away on its own. You can also manage it using prescription medications, and your doctor will monitor you at your follow-up appointments for any signs or symptoms of this effect.
Being Informed Leads to Peace of Mind
Being an informed patient allows you to be comfortable with your upcoming Gamma Knife procedure. Every medical procedure has certain risks and benefits. Your doctor has considered these relative to your personal health factors before determining Gamma Knife radiosurgery is the most appropriate treatment option for your meningioma.
If you still have questions about your individual benefits, risks and side effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery for your meningioma, speak with your doctor at your next appointment. Doing so will make you feel confident in your treatment at all phases, allowing you to focus on the most important thing right now: your recovery.