Gamma-Knife Radiosurgery treats a variety of structural abnormalities inside the brain by applying intersecting beams of radiation to the abnormal area. Gamma-knife radiosurgery is often a safer option than traditional neurosurgery because no incisions are involved.
In Gamma-Knife Radiosurgery, doctors use advanced imaging technology to localize tumors and vascular abnormalities in the brain with pinpoint accuracy, so an array of radiation beams can be focused precisely on the target from many different directions.
Each individual radiation beam is too weak to harm the brain tissue it passes through. The effect of gamma-knife radiosurgery occurs only at the spot in the brain where all the beams meet. With the help of a computer, this spot can be accurately plotted to within a fraction of a millimeter.
Why It's Done ?
Gamma-Knife Radiosurgery Is Most Commonly Used For:
- Brain tumors.
- Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).
- Trigeminal neuralgia.
- Acoustic neuromas.
- Pituitary tumors.
Gamma-knife radiosurgery doesn't involve surgical incisions, so it's less risky than traditional neurosurgery — where you can have problems with anesthesia, bleeding and infection.
In some cases, gamma-knife radiosurgery can cause radiation injury to brain tissue surrounding the target. This can cause swelling, which may develop months after the procedure. In most cases, this swelling is temporary and resolves without treatment. Some people may need corticosteroid medications to control persistent brain swelling.
The risk of radiation injury increases with the amount of brain tissue receiving treatment. Gamma-knife radiosurgery, as a general rule, is best suited to target areas measuring no more than 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) at their widest points.
How You Prepare ?
Don't eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure. Ask your doctor if it's OK to take your regular medications with a sip of water.
Items Not Allowed During The Procedure Include:
- Contact lenses
- Nail polish
Be Sure To Tell Your Doctor If You :
- Are taking pills or injections to control diabetes
- Are allergic to shellfish or iodine
- Have implanted medical devices in your body — such as a pacemaker, artificial heart valve, aneurysm clips, neurostimulators or stents
What You Can Expect ?
Before the procedure
Before the procedure begins, you'll need to have a lightweight frame attached to your head with four pins.
During This Process:
- None of your hair will be shaved
- You'll receive numbing shots in the four places on your scalp where the pins will be inserted
In addition to holding your head perfectly still, the head frame serves as a reference point in determining exactly where the beams of radiation should converge.
After the head frame is attached, you'll undergo imaging scans of your brain. The results are fed into a computerized planning system. This planning process may take several hours. During that time, you can relax in another room, but the head frame must remain attached to your head.
While children are often anesthetized for the procedure, adults are typically awake. You may be given a mild sedative to help you relax.
During The Procedure
You'll lie on a bed that slides into the gamma-knife machine, and your head frame will be attached securely to a helmet inside the machine. The length of time the treatment will take can range from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the size and shape of the target.
During The Procedure:
- You won't feel the radiation
- You won't hear any noise from the machine
- You'll be able to talk with the doctors via a microphone
After The Procedure :
Aftereffects Of The Procedure Are Rare But May Include:
- Tender spots on your scalp where the frame was attached
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