Gamma Knife radiosurgery is the oldest and most widely used method of performing radiosurgery. Radiosurgery is the technique of delivering a very powerful radiation treatment with the accuracy and precision of brain surgery.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is used to treat tumors, vascular malformations and certain functional disorders of the brain. The Gamma Knife has been in continuous use to treat patients for over 40 years and has the most established track record of any other radiosurgery technique.
Gamma Knife is the only radiosurgery treatment system designed solely for the brain, the most complex area in the body. Other technologies may be used to treat both the brain and other parts of the body.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery allows the delivery of a single, large dose of radiation to a specific target in the brain with surgical precision. The radiation reacts on a molecular level with the cancer cells and stop their reproduction, which kills the cancer.
Because large doses of misguided radiation can harm healthy brain tissue, it's vital that only the affected area in the brain is treated. Gamma Knife is guaranteed accurate to 0.5mm ”“ the size of a pinpoint. A 3D reference frame is secured to the patient's head in four spots and the head frame then locks into the secure treatment delivery system. Other technologies, such as CyberKnife, tolerate some head movement, and X-rays must be taken every few minutes during treatment to ensure that the target has not moved between imaging and actual dose delivery.
Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is so accurate, the full dose of radiation can be delivered during a single session.
The actual Gamma Knife surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis in a few hours. There are minimal side effects. Some people may complain of a headache, which can be treated with aspirin. There is no loss of hair or nausea, as with some treatments. Recovery time is usually a few days with no need for convalescence or rehabilitation.
Unlike invasive surgery, Gamma Knife can be used repeatedly over time if new brain tumors occur. And because it's noninvasive, Gamma Knife surgery can be used to treat inoperable tumors.
Not everyone is a candidate for Gamma Knife surgery. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor.
To schedule a consultation with the University of Maryland Gamma Knife Center team, please call 410-328-6236.
This page was last updated: July 24, 2013