Leksell Gamma KnifeGamma Knife technology has been used to treat brain abnormalities and cancers since 1968. It is not a knife or scalpel in the usual sense of the word; this procedure does not require the opening of the skull. Instead, precisely focused beams of radiation are directed to the area of the brain requiring treatment. Treatment is simple, painless, and straightforward. Patients are usually treated in one session and can normally return home shortly afterward.
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance’s partner, University of Washington Medicine, is one of the first sites in the country to offer the latest in Gamma Knife technology – the Leksell Model 4C, pictured right – at the UW Gamma Knife Center, located at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Minimally invasive, Gamma Knife radiosurgery treats patients with brain abnormalities or abnormalities that are too close to delicate structures and blood vessels. It requires little or no anesthesia, offers a fast recovery time, and is safer and less costly than surgery or full-brain radiation.
The precisely focused treatment uses 201 individual radiation beams that are focused through a metal helmet worn on the head. The beams come together into one focal point, optimized to hit only the target, without damaging surrounding healthy tissue and is commonly used to treat
• Arteriovenous malformations
• Acoustic neuromas
• Pituitary tumors
• Metastatic cancer
• Glial tumors
It has also been used to treat rare types of tumors, unmanageable pain, trigeminal neuralgia, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease.
Gamma Knife surgery is most effective when used to treat intracranial tumors up to an inch in size. It can also treat lesions unreachable with conventional surgery and with radiation therapy to treat recurrent tumors. It can help halt the growth of brain metastases from cancer.
Recovery from Gamma Knife surgery varies from patient to patient and depends on the size and type of the lesion or abnormality. It may take weeks or several years, but most abnormalities disappear gradually or just stop growing.
Side effects from Gamma Knife treatment may include:
• Skin irritation
• Superficial lesions
• Patchy hair loss
• Neck stiffness
• Dry mouth
• Pain at the frame securing sites.
Physicians can refer patients to the Gamma Knife Center at Harborview by calling 1-888-GAMMA-68 (1-888-426-6268).