Though it sounds like a surgical procedure, Gamma Knife is a form of stereotactic radiosurgery, which is a type of radiation therapy. It uses focused beams of radiation to deliver targeted treatment directly to the desired area, sparing healthy surrounding tissue and preventing some of the potential unpleasant side effects.
How does Gamma Knife work?
Gamma Knife is typically performed in an outpatient setting and does not require a hospital stay. Many patients will only need a single treatment session, though this depends on each patient’s individual diagnosis.
The procedure itself involves four general steps. First, to ensure the patient does not move out of position during the treatment, a lightweight frame will be positioned on his or her head. The patient will then undergo an MRI to establish the size and location of the treatment target. Using this information, the radiation oncologist and neurosurgeon will then determine the specifications of the patient’s treatment, including target area, dosing, and duration.
Once the treatment plan is finalized, the patient will undergo the actual treatment procedure. The frame that is positioned on the patient’s head is secured to the Icon. The table simply moves into the machine and the treatment begins. Patients may undergo a single treatment session or multiple treatments (up to five), depending on their unique condition. The duration of the treatment depends on their individual treatment needs.
Benefits of Gamma Knife
Gamma Knife has become a preferred treatment option because of the advantages it offers over other treatment modalities and other forms of stereotactic radiosurgery. Compared to the CyberKnife® system, Gamma Knife is designed exclusively to treat conditions of the head and neck. It is also more accurate, uses focused beams of radiation to deliver treatment, and typically requires fewer treatment sessions.
When compared to whole brain radiation therapy, the major benefits of Gamma Knife relate to the fact that it delivers targeted radiation only to the treatment area, sparing healthy surrounding tissue. This results in fewer unpleasant side effects, such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and cognitive deficits. Additionally, the targeted nature of the delivery allows for a higher dosage, requiring fewer treatments.
Gamma Knife is an excellent minimally invasive option compared to traditional surgery.
Some advantages Gamma Knife has over surgery include:
Conditions treated by Gamma Knife
Unlike other radiation therapy methods, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is specifically for the treatment of head and neck conditions. Some conditions it is commonly used to treat include, but are not limited to:
THE LEKSELL GAMMA KNIFE ICON
The Leksell Gamma Knife® Icon™ system introduces important innovations when compared to the original Perfexion system, including the ability to perform microradiosurgery with the original rigid frame alternative as well as the option to create of a custom mask for patient immobilization. The Icon system also integrates 3D imaging and software, allowing for continuous monitoring during treatment, providing the doctors with real-time information and control.
Gamma Knife at
The Valley Hospital
The Valley Hospital is a leader in both healthcare technology and individualized patient care and is one of the first hospitals in the United States to offer the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon. The specialists at The Valley Gamma Knife Center appreciate that there is no “one size fits all” approach to patient care, using the best technology available and customizing each treatment plan to each individual patient.