Gamma Knife Surgery
Gamma Knife surgery is a computer-guided treatment which delivers highly focused radiation to treat lesions in the brain accurately with minimal damage to the surrounding normal tissue. It is also known as Stereotactic Radiosurgery or Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. The procedure can also be combined with traditional surgery to prevent tumour regrowth. The radiation destroys the targeted cells so that the lesion or cancer will shrink over time.
Click to view Mayo Clinic video on Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Indications for treatment
The treatment can be used for the following conditions;
- Brain tumours
- Acoustic neuroma
- Cancer spread to the brain (metastasis)
- Arteriovenous malformations
- Trigeminal neuralgia
Benefits of Gamma Knife Surgery
- It doesn’t require any surgical incision or general anaesthesia
- It can be used for lesions deep in the brain which may not be reached by traditional surgery
- It can treat multiple lesions at the same time
- It has less risks and complications of open surgery such as bleeding and infection
- It is an out-patient procedure and you do not need to stay overnight at the hospital
What to expect during Gamma Knife surgery?
Your neurosurgeon and oncologist will discuss the treatment plan for you. You may have the treatment using either an external rigid head frame or a frameless mask. The treatment may take between 30 minutes to a few hours depending on the size, location and number of lesions. Sometimes, you may require more than 1 treatment session.
1. Rigid Head Frame Option
The head frame is used as a ‘reference frame’ to keeping the target perfectly aligned during the precision treatment. You may feel some pressure when the pins are tightened before the procedure.
Click to view PMCC video on What to expect GKS with Frame
2. Frameless Mask
A Thermoplastic Mask is placed over your face and secured to a frame to keep your head still during the procedure.
Click to view PMCC video on What to expect GKS with Mask
How to prepare for the Gamma Knife surgery?
- Wash your scalp the night before your procedure
- Wear your hair loose and remove any hair clips or pins
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight before your procedure
- Take your morning medications with sips of water on the morning of your treatment day
- Wear comfortable pants or skirt with a loose-fitting shirt to the hospital
- Have a family member or friend to drive you to the hospital and back home
How will I feel during the Gamma Knife surgery?
The actual treatment is painless. You need to lie very still during the procedure and you may listen to music or close your eyes to rest
What happens after the Gamma Knife surgery?
- After your head frame is removed, the pin sites will be cleaned and bandaged with antibiotic ointment applied. You will be taught how to clean your head to prevent infection
- Sleep with your head elevated for the first week to reduce the swelling around your head
- You may wash your hair around 2-3 days after the treatment
What are the side effects of Gamma Knife surgery?
The side effects of the procedure are low compared to surgery and may include;
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Brain swelling causing mild discomfort or headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of balance
- Numbness or tingling sensation at the pin placement sites on the head (for patients with frame)
- Some hair loss
What are the danger signs to watch out for after treatment?
Come to the hospital if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fever, feeling chills or shivers
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severe headache
- Feeling dizzy
- Slurred speech or change in vision
The goal of Gamma Knife surgery is shrink or destroy the lesion. It may take time to experience the full effects of treatment. You will have regular follow-up CT or MRI scans to check on the lesions and your doctor will discuss the treatment progress with you.
Discuss your treatment plan with your neurosurgeon or cancer team
Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such.
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