To ensure the Gamma Knife is accurate in its treatment, you’ll be fitted for a metal head frame before surgery. During your treatment, your neurosurgeon will attach this lightweight head frame to your head to keep you positioned inside the machine.
After being fitted for a head frame, you’ll receive imaging tests such as CT, MRI or angiography. These imaging tests allow your providers to find the exact size, shape and location of the brain tumor. This will ensure the Gamma Knife’s precision gamma radiation is treating only the brain tumor, without sacrificing healthy tissues nearby.
Before starting your procedure, your neurosurgeon will fit you into your head frame’s four points. The points have pins and anchors that, during your procedure, will go through your skin and into the surface of your skull. Your neurosurgeon will use local anesthesia, similar to what is used in a dentist’s office, to keep you from feeling the pins and anchors.
You’ll be awake during your Gamma Knife procedure, but you won’t feel any pain. You may receive medication to help you feel calm.
You’ll lie on a table that goes into a machine, and your head frame will fit inside a helmet that will deliver the radiation. The machine may move your head slightly to ensure treatment is precise.
Treatments can take between 20 minutes and 2 hours. You may require more than one treatment, but patients rarely require more than five sessions of Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
You will most likely be in and out of the hospital within the day, but because of the medications used to relax you, arrange for someone to drive you home. You should be able to return to your normal activities that day, and you’ll continue to follow up with your oncologist and neurosurgeon.