The Advantages of a Gamma Knife

One of the more revolutionary medical technologies to be introduced in the later half of the 20th Century was the Gamma Knife. Invented in 1967, this radiosurgery tool provides the ability to perform intensely targeted radiation surgeries without the side effects of more traditional surgical procedures. The Gamma Knife has become a powerful tool in combating both malignant and benign brain tumors, along with other brain and head related abnormalities and conditions.

What is a Gamma Knife?

First of all, do not let the name fool you. There is no actual knife involved with a Gamma Knife. This instrument uses gamma radiation to treat various conditions related to the brain, skull and neck. During use of the Gamma Knife, the patient will have a specialized helmet surgically attached to their skull to ensure that the Gamma Knife emissions accurately target the brain tumor or other abnormality. The Gamma Knife itself is composed of numerous, low dose gamma emissions that are aimed at the tumor. Since these individual rays are of a lower intensity to prevent damage to the surrounding tissues. However, the point where all the rays meet, in this case the abnormality, receives a full dose of the gamma radiation, thus killing off the unhealthy tissue.

What advantages does the Gamma Knife offer?

The Gamma Knife offers patients the following:

  • Minimal side effects: Unlike other types of treatment there are no adverse side effects from undergoing Gamma Knife therapy. Any side effects are usually a result of the condition being treated.
  • Non-invasive: There is no cutting or incisions with the Gamma Knife. The bloodless procedure ensures that the patient will not need to endure the pre and post op procedures of traditional surgeries. Plus, risk from infection or side effects from general anesthesia are eliminated with Gamma Knife treatments.
  • Virtually painless: Gamma Knife procedures are one of the least uncomfortable treatment options available for the patient. Treatments use local anesthesia and Gamma Knife patients experience negligible discomfort before, during and after treatment.
  • More effective: A single treatment with the Gamma Knife is much more effective than multiple treatments of conventional radiation therapy. This is because of the precise targeting benefit from the Gamma Knife.
  • Quick recovery: Gamma Knife patients can return to normal activities must faster than traditional surgical patients. Most patients can look forward to the procedure being performed as an outpatient procedure.
  • The Gamma Knife also provides a great degree of flexibility in the conditions that can be treated. Most conditions responsive to radiotherapy can be treated with the Gamma Knife. Also, the Gamma Knife has proved effective with conditions considered inoperable under normal surgical conditions or when disease progression has not been halted by earlier surgeries or radiation therapy.

    Because the Gamma Knife does not cause any real side effects, the treatment can also be used alongside other treatments such as chemotherapy and additional radiation therapy.

    Is the Gamma Knife right for me?

    Only your doctor or specialist can answer this question. Before being considered for Gamma Knife treatment, your medical professional will confer with a team of Gamma Knife specialists. These neurosurgeons and radiation oncology specialists will review your medical records and any imaging done prior to the Gamma Knife consideration. These experts will then determine the best course of treatment for the patient going forward.

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