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Gamma Knife Center

The Fort Sanders Regional Gamma Knife Center features the newest and most-advanced Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion® unit, a non-invasive stereotactic radiosurgery procedure used to treat brain tumors and other neurological disorders.

Located at Thompson Cancer Survival Center, the Gamma Knife program uses the latest in diagnostic imaging and three-dimensional treatment planning software to deliver 192 finely-focused beams of gamma radiation to small targets inside the brain. The beams converge at a point to treat the affected tissue, while minimizing the damage of healthy brain tissue.

The Gamma Knife Perfexion® is an alternative or supplemental treatment to traditional brain surgery. Neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists work together to develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient and their disease or disorder.

Common treatments

  • Metastatic Brain Tumors (single/multiple)
  • Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs)
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Meningiomas
  • Acoustic Neuromas
  • Gliomas
  • Pituitary Tumors

Candidates Treated

  • Patients with brain tumors
  • Patients with vascular disorders
  • Patients who are not candidates for conventional neurosurgery or radiation therapy
  • Additional therapy for patients who have already undergone surgery, chemotherapy or radiation and
    require further treatment
  • Gamma Knife Perfexion may also be recommended for patients with these conditions:
    • Tumors or vascular malformations that are surgically inaccessible
    • Risk factors that make surgery inadvisable
    • Need for an additional dose of radiation following radiation therapy
    • Recurrent tumors
    • Facial Pain

The Gamma Knife procedure typically is performed in a single outpatient treatment session with considerably shorter treatment times and minimized surgical complications. Most patients leave the center the same day. With a new innovative design including full automation, the Gamma Knife Perfexion® is the most advanced Gamma Knife unit available on the market today.

Gamma Knife therapy may also be suggested as an adjunct to standard neurosurgical therapy or as the preferred course of treatment when further traditional therapy is not recommended.

What happens during Gamma Knife treatment?

  • Once a patient’s condition is reviewed by our multidisciplinary team and Gamma Knife treatment is deemed appropriate, the patient will be scheduled for a treatment day. On the day of treatment, there are several steps that take place.
  • First, a lightweight frame is attached to the patient’s head. Local anesthesia is used before the frame is secured.
  • Second, the patient has an MRI imaging study or, in the case of an arteriovenous malformation, an angiography may be needed in order to precisely locate the diseases area. Data from the imaging study is transferred into the treatment planning computer.
  • Next, while the patient rests, the treatment team (a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist and physicist) uses advanced software to determine the treatment plan. This takes one or two hours to complete, depending on the complexity and location of the disease.
  • When the individual treatment plan is completed, the patient is placed on the Gamma Knife couch and precisely positioned. The patient is then moved automatically, head first into the machine, and treatment begins. Treatment typically lasts from 15 minutes to an hour or more, during which time the patient feels nothing unusual. Actual treatment time varies based on the condition being treated and its location.
  • Following treatment, the patient is automatically moved out of the machine, and the head frame is removed. Gamma Knife treatment is usually an outpatient procedure, but some cases may require an overnight stay. If a patient is treated on an outpatient basis, he or she will be observed for a period of time and released. If the procedure has been designated as inpatient, then the patient will be admitted to the hospital.

The effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery occur over several months to several years, depending on the type of medical condition treated. The goal for treatment with Gamma Knife radiosurgery is control. The radiation treatment alters the DNA of the tumor or lesion being treated so that the cells no longer reproduce. Some tumors or lesions shrink or decrease in size, while others simply exhibit no further growth, remaining static. The effectiveness of the treatment is monitored by MRI scans at regular intervals. For vascular malformations, control is generally considered total obliteration of blood flow through the abnormal vessels. For functional disorders like trigeminal neuralgia, the goal of treatment is typical freedom from or reduction of pain and medications.