Treatment with Gamma Knife
An individual scheduled for Gamma Knife treatment comes to the hospital the morning of the procedure. Intravenous fluids are given to prevent dehydration, as the patient cannot eat or drink until treatment is complete due to IV sedation.
An anesthetic is applied and the patient is fitted with a lightweight stereotactic frame. This is a measuring guide that helps the Gamma Knife team accurately position the patient. Next, imaging studies such as MRI, CT scan, or angiography are performed to allow the physicians to precisely localize the tumor or vascular malformation. The tumors or vascular malformations can be targeted accurately to prevent injury to surrounding tissue.
Using 3-D computer imaging, the Gamma Knife team develops a radiation dose plan. The patient is then placed on the Gamma Knife bed and the lightweight frame is secured to position the patient’s head within the treatment dome. The helmet contains 192 evenly distributed portals through which radiation beams will be directed. Individually, the beams are small and harmless. Only at the precise point where they intersect are they powerful enough to affect the targeted abnormality.
Next, the bed slides the patient head first into the Gamma Knife cavity, a heavily shielded globe containing the radiation source. The Gamma Knife team uses a video camera to monitor the patient from an adjacent room, and communicates with the patient through a two-way intercom. The Gamma Knife treatment begins, and the patient typically feels no pain or minimal discomfort, from the frame.
Upon completion of the treatment, the bed automatically slides away from the shielded sphere. The patient is then removed from the frame and helmet, and may be discharged within an hour or may spend the night in the hospital for observation.
Gamma Knife treatment side effects are minimal, although patients may experience nausea or temporary recurrence of symptoms. These conditions usually abate within 24 hours. Patients are able to resume pre-surgical activities soon after being discharged.
Gamma Knife treatment results become apparent gradually. Vascular malformations disappear over a period of months or years; brain tumors that stop growing upon treatment may take months to shrink. Trigeminal neuralgia abates gradually.
Patient progress is monitored through follow-up with the physician.
Specific indications treated include the following:
- Benign Tumors - Acoustic Neuromas, Meningiomas, Pituitory Adenomas
- Malignant Tumors - Metastatic Tumors (cancer spread to the brain), Gliomas, Chondrosarcoma
- Vascular Abnormalities - Arteriovenous Malformations
- Functional Disorders - Trigeminal Neuralgia (a.k.a. tic douloureux, chronic facial pain)
“Only weeks after retiring, I began seeing multiple images in one eye. My doctor ordered an MRI and a small tumor was discovered in the upper regions of my sinuses. He referred me to a neurosurgeon who told me I was an excellent candidate for Gamma Knife surgery.
What was so amazing about the Gamma Knife Center at Methodist Hospital was not only the incredible technology, but how warm and friendly the staff was. They put you at ease, give you all the information you need and answer every question. The surgery was nothing short of miraculous. No cutting. No hospital stay. I was home the same day and my vision soon cleared up. A year later everything is still great. If you’re faced with the need for brain surgery, I urge you to contact the Gamma Knife Center at Methodist Hospital.”
- Ursula Sanderson