As you learn more about your medical condition and potential treatment options, you may come across a therapy called Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Many patients in the tri-state area are unfamiliar with the technology and benefits and have to ask their doctors, “What is Gamma Knife surgery?” The following overview will help you better understand exactly what Gamma Knife radiosurgery is, the conditions it can treat and the benefits it can offer.
Keep in mind that all patients are different, and not everyone will be a candidate for Gamma Knife radiosurgery. However, if your doctor has not mentioned it as a treatment option and it is something that interests you, be sure to bring it up at your next appointment. Many NJ patients have been successfully treated using Gamma Knife radiosurgery, and it may be a possible treatment option for your condition.
What is Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?
Despite its name, Gamma Knife radiosurgery does not involve any scalpels or incisions. Rather, it is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses 192 beams of low-dose radiation to target an area smaller than the width of a human hair. This precision allows doctors to treat highly focused areas, reducing the risk of damage to adjacent healthy structures. The radiation is used to shrink cells, such as tumor cells or vascular malformations, oftentimes providing a minimally invasive treatment alternative to surgery.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery takes place in an outpatient setting, which means it does not require a hospital stay. In fact, most patients are able to return to work and regular activity levels within a day or two. The procedure itself takes 15-60 minutes, depending on the size and location of the area being treated, although there is additional time needed before and after the procedure. Many patients can have treatment completed in a single session, although some will require up to five treatments.
Conditions Treated with Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
There are many conditions of the brain, head and neck that can be treated using Gamma Knife radiosurgery in northern NJ. In fact, the Gamma Knife Icon system was developed specifically for treating conditions in this area. Some of the conditions that can be treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery include:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
- Brain metastases
- Pineal tumors
- Pituitary tumors
- Skull base tumors
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Vascular malformation
- Vestibular schwannoma
If you have been diagnosed with any of the above conditions, you may wish to discuss the possibility of treatment using Gamma Knife radiosurgery with your personal doctor.
Benefits of Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an excellent treatment option for many patients because of the benefits it can offer, particularly when compared to other treatments like traditional surgery or whole-brain radiation therapy. In fact, it is becoming the preferred treatment for many NJ patients diagnosed with conditions of the brain, head and neck because of its effectiveness and many of the benefits discussed below.
Some types of brain tumors can be treated using traditional fractionated radiotherapy or whole brain radiation, which delivers low-dose radiation to the brain over multiple treatment sessions. However, Gamma Knife radiosurgery can often be used instead. Because of its focused nature, your doctor can treat only the area of interest rather than the whole brain, sparing healthy surrounding tissue. As a result, patients experience fewer of the unpleasant side effects commonly associated with radiation therapy. Additionally, because it uses multiple beams at once, Gamma Knife radiation delivers a more effective dose and requires fewer overall treatment sessions – sometimes only one.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery can also be used to treat many conditions that would traditionally be treated using surgery. While this is not always the case, many patients who are candidates for surgery also qualify for Gamma Knife radiosurgery as an alternative treatment method, offering many benefits. For one, Gamma Knife radiosurgery takes place in an outpatient setting, which means it does not require an overnight hospital stay. By contrast, many patients who undergo surgery for conditions of the brain, head and neck have to spend up to a week in the hospital.
Additionally, because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a minimally invasive procedure, patients typically experience a shorter recovery time. For example, following brain surgery, a patient will typically be on activity and work restrictions for 4-6 weeks. However, most people are able to return to work and normal activity levels within a day or two following the procedure. Similarly, because it is minimally invasive, Gamma Knife involves less pain and fewer risks than surgical procedures, making it an excellent option for many people.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery as a Treatment Option
As you can see, Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be an excellent treatment option for many patients with brain, head and neck conditions. There are specialists available in northern NJ who have experience treating a wide range of these conditions. If yours was listed above, you may wish to bring up the possibility with your personal doctor at your next appointment if it has not already been discussed. You’ll likely find that you are now more informed and are able to play a more active role in these discussions and can even answer if someone asks you, “What is Gamma Knife surgery?”