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Gamma Knife

Doctors at the Karmanos Cancer Center will often make the point - Having the right set of tools is critical to a successful outcome. A good example is a decidedly high-tech instrument that reaches deep inside the brain of a cancer patient to attack a tumor without damaging surrounding tissue.  This revolutionary technology uses precisely targeted beams of radiation — instead of scalpel incisions — for brain surgery. At Karmanos’ radiation oncology center, it continues to give cancer experts options that might not otherwise be available. 

When is Gamma Knife a Treatment Option?

The decision to use a Gamma Knife is dependent on not only where the tumor is but the specific characteristics of the tumor, including how sensitive it will be to radiation treatment, as determined by the radiation oncologist. 

While the Gamma Knife is sometimes used as a follow up to conventional surgery, in other cases the location of the tumor itself may rule out standard surgical treatment altogether. For areas of the brain where standard surgical treatment is not advisable or even possible, the Gamma Knife can be a life saver. 

How does Gamma Knife Work?

While the Gamma Knife treatment itself is non-invasive — meaning no surgical incisions are necessary — the overall procedure is considered minimally invasive since the patient must first be fitted to a stereotactic frame to eliminate head movement. Once the patient is in position, MRI or CT scans identify the exact location of the tumor in three dimensions, enabling neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists to align radiation beams on the target with incredible precision. 

The actual treatment time can last from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the tumor. During treatment, patients are free to listen to music and relax, with the doctor in contact via intercom and closed circuit television throughout the procedure. 
Like many other treatments for cancer, results of Gamma Knife surgery will vary. 

The results of any Gamma Knife procedure are likely to appear over time with patients asked to return for periodic follow-up imaging to determine the success of treatment and to evaluate any side effects. 

Conditions Treated

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Astrocytoma
  • Chordoma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Dural arteriovenous fistula
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glomus jugulare tumor
  • Hemangioblastoma
  • Hypothalamic hamartoma
  • Meningioma
  • Metastatic brain tumors
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Some skull base malignancies
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

© 2014 Karmanos Cancer Institute Pencil
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center is accredited by The Joint Commission.
If members of the public have any quality-of-care or safety concerns, they may notify The Joint Commission at 630-792-5800.