What is Gamma Knife?

Gamma Knife surgery is a clinically proven method to treat select intracranial locations – such as the brain, brain stem or the trigeminal nerve. Despite its name, Gamma Knife® Icon™ is not a blade that cuts, but highly sophisticated non-invasive technology that uses radiation to damage targeted tissue in a very precise manner. When it comes to sparing healthy brain and body tissue, no other radiosurgery technique can match Gamma Knife® Icon™. Preserving tissue helps maintain normal function that can impact quality of life.

Leksell Gamma Knife® Icon™

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, headquartered in Detroit, is proud to offer the Leksell Gamma Knife® Icon™, the most precise stereotactic radiosurgery system (SRS) currently available. This innovative technology is available at the Lawrence and Idell Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

The Icon™ represents brain treatment innovation, allowing Karmanos experts to offer unparalleled precision and accuracy without some of the side effects associated with traditional treatment approaches.

How does Gamma Knife® Icon™ work?

During Icon™ treatment, up to 192 radiation beams are precisely directed to one or several intracranial lesions, so the tissue where the beams intersect receives a concentrated dose of radiation. The source of radiation is cobalt, and the shape and dose of the radiation is optimized to focus on the exact point desired without damaging healthy tissue or nearby critical structures.

Once the patient is in position, MRI scans identify the exact location of the cancerous (or non-cancerous) tumor in three dimensions, enabling neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists to direct the radiation beams to the target with incredible precision. This precision is unrivaled by other treatment equipment which may be used to deliver radiosurgery.

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.

The results of any Gamma Knife procedure will be evaluated over time with patients asked to return for periodic follow-up imaging to review the success of treatment and to evaluate any side effects.

When is Gamma Knife® Icon™ a Treatment Option?

The decision to use a Gamma Knife depends on not only where the tumor is, but also the specific characteristics of the tumor, as determined by your radiation oncologist. Gamma Knife® Icon™ is used to treat:

  • Metastatic brain tumors
  • Some primary brain tumors
  • Non-cancerous tumors in the brain including meningiomas or acoustic neuromas
  • Neurologic disorders including trigeminal neuralgia, and vascular malformations

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® Icon™ can be a lifesaver.

Unlike conventional radiation therapy, which is delivered over a course of many treatment “fractions,” Gamma Knife treatment is typically delivered in a single fraction, a treatment called stereotactic radiosurgery.

About the Lawrence and Idell Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center

The Karmanos Cancer Institute at Lawrence and Idell Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center is an award-winning outpatient facility designed and operated specifically for cancer patients. One of the unique features of offering this precise Icon™ at our Farmington Hills location is that patients can receive this treatment in our beautiful and comfortable outpatient center instead of in a hospital setting. This means the radiation oncologist, neurosurgeon and neuroradiologist are all on-site participating together as a team in the planning and reviewing of the final treatment plan, prior to the patient's treatment delivery. This is practice significantly enhances plan quality. 

Learn more about Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center here.

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