What is Gamma Knife® radiosurgery?
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a state-of-the-art, non-invasive procedure that uses highly focused gamma rays to safely treat tumors and abnormalities deep inside the brain without surgery. Gamma Knife surgery has been proven safe and is recognized and covered by insurance plans.
How does the procedure work?
The "knife" of Gamma Knife isn't a knife at all. Gamma Knife uses beams of gamma radiation to destroy abnormalities like lesions and tumors inside the skull without surgical incisions or general anesthesia, greatly reducing the risk of complications and side effects.
Over 200 separate beams of gamma radiation pass harmlessly through the skull and brain until they meet up at the target - a lesion or tumor. At the target, the 200+ beams combine to destroy only the targeted abnormality, leaving the rest of the brain and skull completely unharmed and untouched.
The University of Kentucky Gamma Knife Center uses the most advanced version, the Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion. The Gamma Knife Perfexion allows us to target abnormalities with even more efficiency and precision. The Leskell Gamma Knife allows us to target abnormalities with even more efficiency and precision.
What to expect from your Gamma Knife procedure
The entire Gamma Knife procedure takes place in one session. Before the procedure, your neurosurgeon and a team of specialists from radiation oncology, neuroradiology, medical physics, specialized nursing and radiation therapy use the latest technology and techniques to carefully plan your procedure.
When you arrive, you'll be given a mild sedative for comfort and a nurse will stay with you throughout the procedure. The treatment is completely painless and can last from 15 minutes to several hours depending on the size of the lesion(s) and the amount of radiation your surgical team has prescribed.
Patients experience virtually no discomfort or immediate side effects and usually go home from the hospital on the same day, although some insurance companies may require an overnight stay. You'll be able to go back to your normal activities the day after your treatment.
After the treatment, your neurosurgeon will monitor your progress with an MRI, CT or angiogram. The lesion or tumor will dissolve or shrink gradually and eventually disappear or will stop growing.
Most patients experience only minimal side effects from their Gamma Knife treatment -- headache, dizziness, or nausea - which will generally disappear. A very small percentage of patients may experience seizures, but that will also disappear soon after the treatment.
Some patients are concerned about the radiation risks. The radiation is directly focused at the tumor or lesion, keeping doses outside of the target extremely low and harmless.