Conditions treated with Gamma Knife® radiosurgery
Both benign (non-life threatening) and malignant (life-threatening) brain tumors are treated with Gamma Knife. The radiation damages the DNA of the tumor cells, which causes the cells to lose their ability to reproduce. The tumor tissue that remains after the radiation treatment will typically shrink. Gamma Knife is very effective toward treating deep-seated tumors that otherwise may have been deemed too risky to for surgery.
Brain metastasis: Cancerous tumors can spread from other parts of the body to the brain that can cause seizures, headaches or neurological deficits. Gamma Knife is useful in combination with surgery and whole brain radiation to minimize or eliminate the spreading tumors.
Pituitary tumors: The pituitary gland controls the thyroid, adrenal and reproductive glands. A tumor in this gland will cause an abnormal secretion of hormones and result in many problems. Since the pituitary is located especially deep within the brain, Gamma Knife surgery is ideal for treating this type of abnormality.
Meningioma: This type of tumor grows from the membrane covering for the brain and spinal cord and may occur in many different brain locations. Gamma Knife is used best to target the various meningiomas without damaging the surrounding tissue.
Astrocytomas: Derived from connective tissue cells, astrocytomas are the most common type of childhood brain tumor. These tumors are found most often in the cerebellum. Gamma Knife precision is often advantageous for treating children and avoids wider spread areas of radiation which may injure the vulnerable, developing brain.
Craniopharyngioma: These benign tumors are also located in an area near the base of the brain in close proximity to sensitive nerve structures and hormone centers. Craniopharyngiomas create hormonal imbalances causing poor growth and short stature. Gamma Knife can operate within the safe zones as not to damage the surrounding structures.
Glial neoplasms: Glial cells provide support and nutrition to the brain, maintain homeostasis and participate in signal transmission in the nervous system. Gamma Knife may be used in combination with chemotherapy for malignant cases and treatment for recurrences of malignant glioma after more standard therapy.
Acoustic neuromas: Tumors can develop directly on nerves that affect balance and hearing. Gamma Knife treatment inhibits the growth of these tumors with a lower risk of deafness or loss of facial movement compared to conventional surgery.
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs): This type of abnormal blood vessel formation can cause severe bleeding, headaches or seizures. Traditional measures would remove the AVMs with a scalpel but come with more risk of injury than a non-invasive radiation procedure. One treatment of Gamma Knife radiation may cause the abnormal blood vessels to thicken and close off over the course of several months.
Trigeminal neuralgia: This nerve disorder causes severe and disabling facial pain. By strategically placing a lesion on the nerve, the pain signals will be blocked. Gamma Knife provides the most desirable level of precision necessary to effectively treat trigeminal nerve disorders. This procedure is more frequently being used in the first treatment for trigeminal neuralgia when medicines fail to provide adequate pain relief.