Gamma Knife Radiation – What it is, What to Expect and How it can Help You
Gamma Knife radiation is a type of treatment that delivers thin beams of gamma rays, or high-energy radiation, to the brain. Despite its name, Gamma Knife radiation does not involve traditional surgery techniques or the use of an actual knife. Instead, gamma rays are emitted from various locations outside of the head and combine to produce an intense dose of radiation to target lesions in the brain, without relying on surgical incisions. Depending on the case, the strength, angles, location and number of times the beams are discharged will vary. Designed to specifically treat brain conditions, this method of treatment has the greatest precision of any radiosurgery method to date and has therefore, become a widely used and reliable form of therapy.
What Conditions does Gamma Knife Radiation Treat?
The Gamma Knife radiation procedure helps to heal or slow various brain disorders including:
- Benign and malignant brain tumors
- Abnormal blood vessels
- Parkinson’s disease and other tremors
- Some types of epilepsy
- Severe facial nerve pain
- Conditions that affect movement
What to Expect from a Gamma Knife Radiation Procedure
It’s important to follow all the directions from your healthcare provider to ensure the process runs smoothly. Here is a brief look at what you can expect from the Gamma Knife radiation procedure:
- Before the Procedure: A lightweight frame will be placed over your head using four pins to stabilize any movement, as well as serve as a point of reference for the doctor administering the beams of radiation. While your hair will not be shaved, it may be washed using a special shampoo and numbing shots will be injected where the pins are inserted. After the device is attached, imaging scans will help your doctor identify the exact location of your brain lesions which allows us to determine where to focus the beams.
- During the Procedure: Patients will lie on a bed that goes into the Gamma Knife machine, where the frame on your head is attached to a special helmet inside this machine. An IV will keep you hydrated throughout the procedure but you should not expect to hear any noise from the machine or feel the radiation. Additionally, you will be able to speak with your doctors through a microphone.
- After the Procedure: It is highly recommended that you have a friend or family member drive you to and from your appointment. After the procedure, you may experience some mild discomfort where the pins have been inserted, including bleeding and tenderness. If you have a headache or are nauseous and vomiting, you’ll receive the appropriate medications from your doctor to deal with these side effects. Further instruction will be given regarding follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.
What are the Benefits of Gamma Knife Radiation as a Treatment?
The Gamma Knife radiation technique can be an effective solution for patients with brain lesions that cannot be treated or resolved through standard surgery techniques. Since the results take time, this type of treatment should not be considered for conditions that require immediate attention. However, it can be used in conjunction with traditional surgery to prevent certain diagnoses from progressing. There are additional benefits of Gamma Knife radiation, such as:
- Helps to heal or slow the progression of brain diseases.
- It is a safe and comfortable procedure that only targets a very specific area.
- Has a minimal effect on healthy brain tissues.
- Patients do not need to undergo a general anesthetic.
- Same-day discharge from hospital after treatment.
Consult Dr. Adam Lewis at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic to learn if this high precision treatment is right for you. Dr. Lewis has trained with some of the pioneers in Gamma Knife radiosurgery and has performed the procedure since 1989. Gamma Knife radiation can be performed on both children and adults who prefer a less invasive treatment option to brain surgery. Our team includes a radiation physicist and a radiation oncologist. We perform the surgeries typically on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The procedure is outpatient and the patients go home the same day.
Contact us today to learn more about Gamma Knife radiation or to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists. We’ll find a solution that works for you! Call us at (601) 366-1011.