Gamma Knife

November 12, 2012

Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife surgery is a type of radiation therapy used to treat tumors and abnormalities in the brain. Specialized equipment focuses almost 200 tiny beams of radiation on the tumors, without affecting the surrounding tissue.

Uses

Gamma Knife is recognized as one of the most cost-effective and highly specialized treatment techniques that can help treat brain diseases that were earlier considered untreatable. Gamma Knife is effective in treating a wide range of brain abnormalities including arterio-venous malformations (AVM), which leads to abnormal tangles of blood vessels in the brain, causing seizures and hemorrhagic stroke. Gamma Knife can also help treat the pain associated with cranial nerves near the base of the brain. It can stop the growth of tumors in about 90 percent of the cases. The procedure can also control the spread of acoustic neuromas and malignant tumors.

Procedure

Gamma Knife is a stereo-tactic surgery that is very precise and completely non-invasive. Doctors can treat tumors and other brain diseases without on incision on the brain tissue. During the procedure, a machine directs gamma rays through a helmet such that it destroys the diseased tissue without scarring the healthy parts of the brain. The main steps include:

  • Application of the Stereotactic frame
  • Image acquisition
  • Planning of the dosage and
  • Radiation delivery

The Stereotactic Head Frame is the most important component of this procedure. It is attached to the head of the patient with screws, and allows the doctors to locate the tumor or diseased tissue precisely. The beams target the diseased tissue specifically. The screws prevent unwanted head movements during the procedure, and thereby protect the healthy tissues of the brain. After the head frame is in place, the tumor is examined by a CT or MRI scan to precisely locate its location, size and shape. Blood vessel abnormalities are treated using an angiogram

On completion of the treatment, the patient lays on the treatment table with the head frame attached to the helmet. The gamma rays are sent in to destroy the abnormal tissue.

Advantages

Gamma Knife can improve survival rates in patients with brain diseases and abnormalities. It is accurate and fast, and the patient does not require anesthesia or incision. It is cheaper than the traditional brain surgery with minimal discomfort to the patient. The lack of incision eliminates the risk of post-surgery infection, and the patient can resume normal activity sooner when compared to traditional brain surgeries for tumors and abnormalities.

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