Gamma Knife Head Frame: What is It and Why is It Necessary?

As you are educating yourself about Gamma Knife radiosurgery, you may have come across the terms “head frame” or “halo.” The idea may seem a little intimidating, but the gamma knife head frame is actually a feature of Gamma Knife radiosurgery that allows your doctors to treat an area as precise as 0.15 mm – the width of just two human hairs – while sparing healthy neighboring tissues. Read on to learn more about the head frame and the role it plays in your procedure.

What is the Gamma Knife Head Frame?

The Gamma Knife head frame is a lightweight aluminum frame that fits over your head and weighs less than two pounds. The frame is secured using four pins, which are secured into the scalp through four small pinholes. But don’t worry, before placing the head frame, the pin placement areas will be numbed using anesthesia, and you won’t experience any pain.

Why is the Gamma Knife Head Frame Necessary?

Before beginning your procedure, your care team will take 3D images of the area to be treated, then use those to direct treatment to the exact area of interest. Because the treatment is so precise, it’s important you stay in the exact same position and do not move during the procedure. The head frame stabilizes your position so treatment is delivered exactly where it needs to be.

Is the Gamma Knife Head Frame Safe?

Yes, the Gamma Knife head frame is safe. The head frame itself plays an important role in keeping you safe and reducing radiation dose to healthy cells. The head frame is lightweight and not a burden to wear, and it simply attaches through four small pinholes in the scalp. If you have any concerns during treatment, you will be able to communicate with your care team throughout the entire procedure.

Are There Alternatives to the Gamma Knife Head Frame?

Some patients may be able to have a custom mask made that serves the same purpose as a head frame. The mask is made of a plastic material that is warmed, then fitted over your face, securing your head to the treatment couch. The nose is left exposed to allow you to breathe comfortably.

What are the Side Effects or Risks of Using a Gamma Knife Head Frame? 

Most patients do not experience issues following the use of the head frame. However, as with any wound that breaks the skin, you may have itchiness, soreness or redness as your scalp heals. Your care team will instruct you on appropriate skin care following the procedure. 

Learn More About Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

Whether you already have your Gamma Knife radiosurgery procedure scheduled or are still exploring your treatment options, it’s important you proceed with confidence. Continue to educate yourself about your condition and treatment, and be sure to approach your doctor with any remaining questions you may have.

If you would like to learn more about Gamma Knife radiosurgery 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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